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Arrest warrant rejected for crane-top protesters

A local court denied an arrest warrant for Kim Jin-suk, a female labor activist who staged a 309-day sit-in atop a tower crane at a shipyard in Busan, court officials said Monday.

Judge Nam Sung-woo of the Busan District Court rejected the police’s request for warrants to arrest Kim and three others who staged the crane-top rally to protest layoffs at Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Co.

Police had sought to arrest them on charges of trespassing and obstruction of business.

“The decision (not to issue warrants) reflected the following facts: that Kim ended her protest peacefully; that Hanjin’s management submitted a petition asking for leniency; and that she needs to recover from the exhausting crane-top sit-in,” the judge said.

He also noted that Kim admits to all charges and that she doesn’t seem like a flight risk.

Kim, a leading member of the Korea Confederation of the Trade Unions and former Hanjin employee, came down from the 35-meter crane at Hanjin’s Yeongdo dockyard on Thursday, after the company’s unionized workers approved a deal struck between their leaders and the management.

She was taken to a nearby hospital for medical checkups.

Her descent marked a full and peaceful closure to one of the country’s worst labor disputes which has bisected civic and political groups for months.

Under the compromise, Hanjin will rehire all 94 laid-off workers within a year and pay them 20 million won ($17,860) each in compensation.

The police have said earlier they would take due steps against Kim and others accused of violating laws during the labor struggle.

However, some expressed worries that such a move could jeopardize the fragile peace at Hanjin.

Among them is Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, the chairman of the ruling Grand National Party.

“I hope the court takes into account the cooperative mood between the labor union and the management after they struck a compromise,” the politician tweeted, expressing his “regrets” over the police’s decision to request an arrest warrant for Kim.

By Lee Sun-young (milaya@heraldcorp.com)
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