Former President Chun Doo-hwan was set to appear in a regional court Monday for a libel trial over his memoir accused of defaming victims of his brutal crackdown on a 1980 pro-democracy uprising.
Chun left his home at around 8:30 a.m. and headed to the southwestern city of Gwangju, about 330 kilometers south of Seoul. He was accompanied by his wife and former first lady Lee Soon-ja and his lawyer, and escorted by police.
The trial is slated for 2:30 p.m.
Chun, who led an authoritarian government from 1980-1988, was indicted in May last year on charges that his memoir defamed victims of his government's bloody crackdown on the Gwangju pro-democracy revolt.
He is accused of libeling late activist priest Cho Chul-hyun, who said he witnessed the military firing at citizens from helicopters during the bloody suppression of the protests against Chun's rule.
Chun denied the claim in his memoirs published in early 2017. He called Cho "Satan wearing a mask" and claimed what he said was a flat-out lie.
The Gwangju District Court has issued a subpoena against Chun, 88, after he repeatedly refused to come to the hearing, citing health conditions that include a claim that he suffers from Alzheimer's disease.
His lawyer has said the former president has no intention of evading the court proceedings.
Prosecutors began an investigation after a relative of Cho filed a complaint. If convicted, Chun could face up to two years in prison or up to 5 million won (US$4,550) in fines.
The former Army general seized power in a 1979 coup and ruled the country until early 1988. He was sentenced to death in 1996 for treason and bribery. His sentence was reduced to life imprisonment by the highest court, and he was released in December 1997 on a presidential pardon.(Yonhap)
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