NATIONAL

Prosecutors seek death penalty for Chinese fisherman

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Apr 4, 2012 - 20:52
  • Updated : Apr 4, 2012 - 20:52

Prosecutors demanded Wednesday the death penalty for the captain of an illegal Chinese fishing boat indicted on charges of killing a Korean Coast Guard officer last year.

The Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office also asked for two- to three-year prison sentences for nine other Chinese sailors. In addition, prosecutors demanded a 20 million won ($17,700) fine for each.

The captain surnamed Chung, 43, is accused of murdering Korean Coast Guard sergeant Lee Cheong-ho and seriously wounding another officer with a knife on Dec. 12 during a raid on Chinese boats illegally fishing in Korean waters off Incheon. The nine others, including another captain attempted to block officers from conducting the crackdown on their two boats during the same incident.

“It is inevitable that Chung will receive a harsh sentence considering that the murder was premeditated, the family of the deceased is asking for harsh punishment and that he is unwilling to offer any form of compensation to the family,” said a prosecutor of the office.

“The punishment of the defendants must be a reflection of the crime considering that it is very grave, a challenge to the country’s authority, and has a huge impact on society.“

And according to the family of the 42-year-old sergeant, the defendant deserves a punishment as severe as his crimes.

“We have tried to forgive the perpetrator but we just cannot,” said a member of the family, whose name was not disclosed to the media.

Lee was the second KCG officer killed by Chinese operating illegally in South Korean waters. The first was slain in September 2008 when a Chinese fisherman hit the officer on the head with a shovel.

The sentencing for the 10 will be announced April 19.

Chinese ships have become increasingly bold in expanding their fishing areas into the Korean waters.

Earlier this year Seoul and Beijing agreed to continue to seek negotiations on setting a clear maritime boundary in apparent efforts to address the issue. Seoul received a letter from Beijing that it would implement stricter supervision and stronger punishment for its fishing boats caught illegally operating in South Korean waters.

By Robert Lee (robert@heraldcorp.com)