Han Ji-soo to be Freed

A Korean woman charged with murder in Honduras has been found not guilty, the foreign ministry in Seoul said Sunday, adding that she could be freed later.

The ministry said in a press release that a regional court in Roatan ruled Han Ji-soo, 27, innocent in what was her first main hearing Saturday, local time. The trial took place about a month after the case was referred to the court.

The ministry said the Honduran prosecutors can appeal the verdict within 20 days, but it is unlikely the ruling will be overturned.

The diving instructor was arrested in August 2009 on suspicion of involvement in the 2008 death of a female backpacker from the Netherlands in Honduras. The Dutch woman died at a house Han had been sharing with others.

The victim’s boyfriend, who has dual citizenships in Australia and Britain, had been named the primary suspect but was later released.

Han has claimed innocence. She was freed on bail in December last year and has since been under house arrest at a Korean church in the Central American country.

Ahead of the trial, the foreign ministry last week dispatched a diplomat for consular affairs and an official at the Korean embassy in Honduras. Seoul also sent a forensic expert from the state-run National Institute for Scientific Investigation to help Han prepare for the hearing.

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