The national police director said today that a dissident student's death last Wednesday was due to police brutality and announced the arrest of two officers.
Kang Min Chang told a news conference that the student "suffocated to death" when his throat was pressed against the edge of a bathtub as the two officers stuck his head into the water trying to extract statements from him.
Kang said that as the man in charge of police, he "sincerely offers my apology to the family of the student and the entire people for the incident."
Kang said that the student, Park Jong Chul, allegedly accused of anti-government activities, had refused to talk during the questioning at a special police investigation center in Seoul.
The two officers, Lt. Cho Han Kyong, 38, and Sgt. Kang Chin Kyoo, 33, have been charged with homicide through brutal acts, Kang said. He added that Col. Chun Suk Rin, in charge of Countercommunism Investigation Group No. 2, has been relieved of his post for failure to supervise his subordinates.
He said the entire police force is "deeply reflecting on the regrettable tragedy," which he said "resulted from some overzealous investigators despite the institutional device banning brutal acts against suspects."
It was the first time in years that police had acknowledged such treatment against political detainees, although dissidents have claimed that police used torture against them in the past.
Police said in an initial report that Park, a 21-year-old linguistic student at Seoul National University, died "of shock" from questioning, but denied any torture.
Press reports quoted doctors as saying that Park's stomach was filled with water and his body bruised.