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soldier suicide-state compensation


SEOUL, March 20 (Yonhap) -- A Seoul court has ruled that the government is partially responsible for the death of a soldier who committed suicide in 2009 just three days after he was transferred to a military base, court officials said Wednesday.

After weeks of basic training, the soldier, whose identity has been withheld, was quarantined at a training center inside the base along with other newly conscripted soldiers without going through a routine counseling or examination due to a widespread flu epidemic at the time. Three days later, he took his own life.

His family filed the suit, saying that the military did not take any precautionary measure when there was a possibility that the solider could have suffered from depression.

The Seoul Central District Court ordered the government to pay 100 million won (US$89,800) in compensation, saying the state is partially responsible for the soldier's death because it failed to take precautionary measures that would have prevented the suicide, they said.

"The government is partly responsible for the soldier's death because (the military) did not take any measure to look after the newly conscripted soldier and failed to figure out whether the soldier suffered from depression," the court said.

The court, however, limited the amount of compensation to 30 percent of total damages sought by the family members, claiming that the military had to quarantine the soldiers to prevent the spread of the flu.

In South Korea, all able-bodied male youths are required to serve approximately two years of military service as the country is still technically at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

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