|Former Busan Mayor Oh Keo-don, who is facing a charge of sexual harassment, appears in front of the Busan District Court, Tuesday, to attend a session on determining whether to approve an arrest warrant for him. The court decided to dismiss the warrant request later in the day, saying there would be no concerns over destruction of evidence. / Yonhap|
By Jun Ji-hye
Some 200 women's groups nationwide are voicing criticism against a court decision that dismissed an arrest warrant for former Busan Mayor Oh Keo-don who is facing a charge of sexually harassing a civil servant in his office.
Oh stepped down from his position in April after confessing to the crime.
Prosecutors requested the arrest warrant, May 28, after a month of investigations, but Busan District Court dismissed the warrant, Tuesday, saying there were no concerns regarding destruction of evidence.
Reacting against the decision, the Busan Counseling Center Against Sexual Violence and other women's organizations issued a joint statement, claiming the court showed a lack of awareness of gender issues in a sexual violence case involving a high ranking official.
The Busan center has provided the victim with protection and support in the case since it first received a report from her.
"A judge who was in charge of the case delivered a message to the public that those who have power and money can get a trial without worrying about physical detention, even if they commit grave crimes," the statement said.
They also claimed the court missed the chance to issue a warning over sexual violence that occurred in the hierarchical, male-centered culture.
When dismissing the warrant, Judge Cho Hyun-chul said, "The case seems to be serious, considering the crime site and Oh's relations with the victim. But all relevant evidence has been secured, and Oh has admitted to his crime. There seems to be no particular reason to arrest him."
Immediately after the decision was made, Oh, who was waiting in a jail cell, was allowed to return home.
During his press conference, April 23, Oh said, "I made inappropriate physical contact in a meeting with the civil servant and realized that it was an indecent assault," announcing his resignation from the position.
Following Oh's resignation, a deputy mayor is serving as acting mayor of the nation's largest port city.
Investigators said they will continue to investigate the case and other suspicions facing the former mayor, including the alleged violation of the Public Official Election Act.