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Man executed in 1961 has spy charges cleared by Seoul court

SEOUL -- A South Korean court Monday posthumously acquitted a man executed 50 years ago on spying charges, deeming that he had been wrongfully convicted of acting as a double agent for North Korea.

Shim Moon-kyu, a South Korean trained by Seoul as a spy, was secretly sent to the communist North in 1955 where he was captured, retrained as a double-agent and sent back to Seoul two years later.

On his return, he immediately turned himself in to the authorities, but was still charged with working as a double agent and eventually executed in 1961.

“The court today cleared him of the charges,” a spokeswoman for the Seoul Central District Court told AFP.

According to the Yonhap news agency, the court found no clear evidence to support the original verdict that Shim had ever actually operated as a double agent after being retrained by Pyongyang.

“This court offers a sincere apology for the judiciary failing to faithfully carry out its duty,” Judge Lee Won-bum was quoted as saying.

Members of Shim's family, who had fought to clear his name, burst into tears when the ruling was delivered.

In 2009, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission — a state-run committee set up to probe past human rights violations — ruled that Shim's case had been fabricated and requested a retrial.

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