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War Criminal Trials (Koreans)

Volume 446: debated on Tuesday 27 January 1948

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asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a statement concerning Koreans' defence in war criminal trials in Malaya and elsewhere.

The usual practice in these cases is that an accused is offered a Japanese lawyer to defend him at the trial, assisted by a Japanese-speaking British defence liaison officer. If the accused does not wish to be defended by a Japanese advocate, he may apply to be defended by a British officer, and in this case a Japanese advocate is made available to advise and assist the British defending officer. In the past, the accused had the further alternative of defence by an Indian officer, assisted by a Japanese lawyer. In the great majority of cases, the accused have elected to be defended by a Japanese advocate.

Does the Under-Secretary realise that Korea has been oppressed and occupied by the Japanese for many years? Does he not think it possible for Korean lawyers, of whom there are plenty, to defend Koreans? Have the Koreans been told there is a possibility of Korean lawyers defending them? Does he further realise that India is as far away from Korea as Russia is from England, and would he in these circumstances prefer Russians to defend Englishmen?

We have had no complaints about this, but if any cases are brought to our notice, we shall be glad to investigate them, and to see whether any alteration is necessary in the procedure.

Does the Under-Secretary realise that when our delegation was in Korea, a very large number of Korean journalists and officials approached us on this point? They said that they were disgusted and angry that no Korean was allowed to defend the Koreans, especially when they had spent their time trying to fight the Japanese internally.

This procedure has been going on for some considerable time and we have received no complaints. I have invited complaints in regard to any particular case where this procedure has not worked well, and if such cases are brought to our notice, we will investigate them with a view to making alterations in procedure.