|Rep. Lee Seok-ki of the Unified Progressive Party enters the courtroom at the Suwon District Court on Monday. The prosecution sought a 20-year prison term for the lawmaker. (Press Corps)|
Prosecutors on Monday asked judges to sentence leftist opposition lawmaker Rep. Lee Seok-ki to 20 years in prison on charges of plotting an armed rebellion.
The judges’ ruling is expected before Feb. 17.
“Heavy punishment is necessary since (Lee) ordered RO (Revolutionary Organization) members to prepare for riots and military warfare, by abusing his status (as a lawmaker),” prosecutors said at the Suwon District Court in Gyeonggi Province.
The RO is a secret cabal that Lee of the minority opposition Unified Progressive Party purportedly led while allegedly plotting to attack government offices during a potential North Korean invasion.
Prosecutors also charged Lee with violating the National Security Law by singing songs praising North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung during RO meetings between March and August last year.
Prosecutors also demanded 15 years in prison for five co-defendants accused of assisting Lee, and 10 years for another accomplice. The seven defendants may face a 10-year suspension of suffrage and other basic rights.
Agents from the National Intelligence Service raided the offices of Lee and other UPP members in August after obtaining a tape recording that allegedly evidenced Lee’s “dangerous” pro-North Korea leanings. The tape recordings documented Lee calling for RO members to “prepare for war.” Prosecutors indicted Lee and six other UPP members in September.
The UPP has been under fierce legal and political attacks from the ruling Saenuri Party and the government. The Saenuri Party unsuccessfully motioned an expulsion order for Lee and UPP Rep. Kim Jae-yeon from parliament last November.
The government, meanwhile, petitioned the Constitutional Court to disband the minority party, charging that the UPP’s policies supported unification of the Korean Peninsula under a federation plan originally proposed by Kim Il-sung. The nation’s top court has not yet ruled on the case.
By Jeong Hunny (firstname.lastname@example.org)