Vietnam war crime survivor gets justice in court — RT World News
Nearly 55 years after his village was destroyed by South Korean marines fighting alongside the United States in Vietnam, a Seoul judge has ruled that Nguyen Thi Thanh was the victim of a war crime and entitled to a compensation.
On Tuesday, Judge Park Jin-soo of the Seoul Central District Court ruled that what members of the Second Marine Brigade did to his family “was clearly an unlawful act”. Ngyuen, 62, was entitled to compensation from the South Korean government in the amount of $23,900, he said.
Lawyers representing Nguyen, who brought the case in 2020, hope it will set a precedent for prosecuting other atrocities committed in Vietnam by South Korean troops. Seoul had sent 320,000 troops to support the US war effort in Vietnam, the largest Allied contingent in the conflict. Australia, Thailand, New Zealand and the Philippines also took part in the fighting on the American side.
Nguyen was seven years old when South Korean marines entered the villages of Phong Nhi and Phong Nhut on February 12, 1968. More than 70 villagers were killed, shot or stabbed to death with bayonets. Nguyen was shot in the stomach but survived, along with his brother and 18 other villagers. Five of their family members did not.
Government lawyers argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove the massacre and that the operation itself was unfortunate but not illegal, claiming that there were Viet Cong guerrillas in the villages. They also attempted to invoke the statute of limitations.
However, one of the former Second Marines, Ryu Jin-seong – now 76 – testified at trial and endorsed Nguyen’s account of events. The same goes for declassified US military documents. US Marines stationed near Dien Ban heard the gunshots and saw the smoke from burning homes in Phong Nhi and Phong Nhut. They helped some of the injured and took photos of the dead in Phong Ni, which served as evidence in the trial.
A month after the events of Phong Nhi and Phong Nhut, another American unit will kill hundreds of Vietnamese civilians in the village of My Lai.
Nearly 3.5 million people in Vietnam – as well as neighboring Laos and Cambodia – have died in the two decades of conflict that began with the 1955 partition. The United States has moved from financial support in South Vietnam to open military intervention in 1964, only to withdraw in 1972. The Saigon government capitulated three years later.
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