A South Korean man has been convicted in a jury trial for posting pro-North Korean messages on the Internet in violation of Seoul's draconian security law, court officials said Tuesday.
The Seoul Western District Court said seven jury members unanimously sentenced the 48-year-old defendant, identified only by his surname Choi, to 10 months in prison with a two-year stay of execution.
A member of a pro-Pyongyang Internet cafe, Choi was accused of posting online messages on his Internet blog and other websites between 2009 and 2012, praising Pyongyang's military power, officials said. He also emailed such postings to others.
Enacted in 1948 to fight communism, the National Security Law bans any "anti-state" activities that attempt to praise, encourage or propagandize North Korean political ideals.
It marks the first time that a jury trial has been held for a case violating the security law.
The jury trial system, introduced in 2008 on a limited basis, is adopted when a defendant asks the court to have civilians hear the case. The jury's verdict is non-binding, and the court still holds a bench trial, in which a judge makes all decisions.
In Choi's case, seven jury members delivered a unanimous guilty verdict, and the judge upheld the jury's decision, officials said.
"Choi continuously posted anti-state messages for a long period of time," the jury said in its ruling. "Choi's postings should also be not viewed as academic activities." (Yonhap News)