SEOUL, South Korea: South Korean police arrested three teenage boys Sunday for allegedly raping eight elementary school girls in a case that has caused public anger and criticism of the government.
Police took formal custody of the three — all 14-years of age — after a local court issued a warrant to arrest them for allegedly violating South Korea's sex offense law, said police detective Kwon Byung-soo.
Kwon spoke from Daegu, some 300 kilometers (185 miles) southeast of Seoul, where the rapes are alleged to have occurred on April 21.
The three boys are accused of raping eight girls — all aged 8 years — on the back lawn of a middle school, Kwon said. Eight younger boys are also suspected of participating, he said.
The court was concerned that the three older boys might collaborate and destroy evidence if they were not arrested and put under police custody, he said.
If charged and convicted, they could be sentenced to juvenile prison, although youths under 18 are usually placed on probation or ordered to go to reform school, according to South Korean prosecutors.
The eight younger boys — aged between 11 and 13 — were either referred to a family court to determine their possible punishment without formal trial or set free, Kwon said.