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Seoul awards US$2 mil. to man over torture in 1980s

SEOUL -- A Seoul court on Tuesday awarded a fisherman compensation of more than US$2 million for being tortured and imprisoned in the 1980s on false charges of spying for North Korea.

The Seoul Central District court ordered a payment of 2.45 billion won (US$2.2 million) to the fisherman, identified as Cheong, and six of his family members named in the compensation suit, a court spokesman said.

Cheong, along with dozens of other fishermen, was briefly detained in the North in 1965 after they were seized while collecting shellfish on an islet close to the disputed sea border in the Yellow Sea.

Seventeen years later, in 1982, he was taken into custody by South Korea's military-backed government and grilled for 13 days by counter-espionage agents who accused him of spying for the North.

Released without charge, he was detained again the following year for 38 days, and ended up signing a confession under torture which led to his wife and brother confessing under similar duress.

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