Supreme Court upholds 12-year sentence for attack on US ambassador

Posted on : 2016-09-29 15:57 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
While upholding attempted murder conviction, Supreme Court also upholds acquittal of National Security Law charges
Kim Ki-jong
Kim Ki-jong

A verdict sentencing Kim Ki-jong to 12 years in prison for his attack on US ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was upheld by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s first division, under Justice Lee Ki-taik, announced on Sep. 28 that it had upheld an original ruling sentencing Kim to 12 years in prison for attempted murder. In Mar. 2015, Kim used a fruit knife to slash Lippert’s face while he was attending a breakfast talk sponsored by the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul.

Based on Kim‘s motive - demanding an end to joint military exercises by South Korea and the US - and the size of the knife and intensity and duration of the attack, both the first and second courts concluded that Kim has deliberately but unsuccessfully attempted to kill Lippert, a position that the Supreme Court also accepted.

But the Supreme Court also upheld the first court’s ruling acquitting Kim of violating the National Security Law. Prosecutors had claimed that Kim‘s act of attempted murder and calls for an end to joint military exercises constituted sympathy with North Korea’s arguments and activities.

“It cannot be concluded that [Kim‘s] claims or act of attempted murder resulted in a clear danger of substantive harm to the existence or safety of the Republic of Korea or the basic order of liberal democracy,” the Supreme Court said in upholding the original acquittal.

By Kim Min-kyoung, staff reporter

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