South Korean military leaders lured the accused killer of President Park Chung Hee into a trap leading to his arrest as soon as they learned he had shot the president, the country's martial law command said today in an official report.
The military report, which exonerated all military officials of any blame in Park's death, said that the accused killer, former Korean Central Intelligence Agency chief Kim Jae Kyu, had been considering assassinating the president since June. At that time Kim conceived of a plan to murder Park and his chief bodyguard, Cha Ji Chul. But Kim hoped to keep the assassination secret for at least three days during which he planned to establish his own control over the government, the report said.
It said no military official was involved in the assassination plot and that two top military leaders acted quickly to disarm and arrest the accused killer once his role was known.
The report said the alleged assassin had planned to establish a revolutionary command to seize control of the government.
It was four hours after the shooting, the report said, before the military learned that Kim had shot Park in a KCIA dining room. They promptly tricked him into entering an automobile at the Defense Ministry and had him disarmed and arrested, the report says.
The latest and perhaps final report on the Oct 26 assassination provides a version of events which exonerates Gen. Chung Sung Wha, despite rumors of his complicity in the plot. Chung, the Army chief of staff who has become martial law commander, had been the subject of many rumors because, according to new leaks last week, he had been near the scene of the shooting.
The report was issued by a joint investigative command, which had been probing the assassination for 11 days. That unit is under the jurisdiction of the martial law command headed by Gen. Chung.
The report stated in its conclusions that there had been no involvement on the part of the military or of any external power. It called the assassination a murder plotted by a man who was under the illusion he cold become president.
It said that seven people would be given an open trial by a military court. They are Kim Jae Kyu, the alleged assassin; President Park's chief secretary, Kim Kaw Won, who is accused of being a collaborator; and five KCIA officers who allegedly gunned down Park's bodyguards after the president was slain.
The report said Kim Jae Kyu plotted to kill Park because he feared he would be removed as KCIA director. The would-be assassin got his chance when Park insisted on dining with him that night at the KCIA compound near the presidential mansion. Kim Jae Kyu shot both Park and his chief bodyguard in the dining room, the report said.
The report distributed this morning gives the following version of the events after the assassination:
Kim Jae Kyu had arranged to have Gen. Chung at a restaurant nearby on that evening, and raced to contact him immediately after the killing. They drove in an automobile through downtown Seoul toward another KCIA office without Kim Jae Kyu telling the general exactly what had happened.
Kim Jae Kyu told the general that something out of the ordinary had happened and that secrecy had to be maintained, but he made no mention of Park's death. Chung, supposing that some military operation would be necessary, decided they shold go to an Army headquarters bunker.
Kim Jae Kyu later asked Chung and other military and civilian leaders to declare martial law -- still without telling them what happened. Cabinet ministers wre summoned to the Army bunker, and Kim Jae Kyu was asked to explain what happened. He told them he did not know the details but that he was sure the president was dead.
He asked them to declare martial law to preserve the country's security.
In the meantime, Kim Kae Won, the president's chief secretary, had been summoned. He had been in the dining room and turned out to be the only member of President Park's entourage to survive the shootings.
After a brief conversation with the alleged assassin, Kim Kae Won -- who was apparently prepare to go along with the coup -- realized that the plan was not succeeding and decided to confess to Gen. Chung and to Defense Minister No Jae Hyun. He told them for the first time at 11:30 p.m., approximately four hours after the assassination, that Kim Jae Kyu had shot the president.
That confession was made at the Defense Ministry where all of the top leaders, including civilian cabinet members, had gathered in an emergency meeting.
Gen. Chung then returned to the Army bunker, alerting military units in the metropolitan area to be on guard, and he established an emergency command post.
Kim Jae Kyu at that point was in the defense minister's office. A fake message ws given to him saying that Gen. Chung wanted to see him at the Army bunker. When Kim Jae Kyu got into the automobile outside, he was disarmed and arrested by military police. His .38-caliber revolver contained only one bullet.
The report added only one significant new detail to previous official accounts of the slaying that night. It said that, in addition to four men in the dining room, there were two women present. It does not explain what happened to them.