The Seoul High Court on Monday sentenced Lee Seok-ki of the minor opposition Unified Progressive Party to a nine-year jail term and banned him from office for seven years, finding him guilty of inciting a revolt.
The prosecution had asked for 20 years in prison with a 10-year ban from public office for Lee.
“The charge of inciting a revolt against Lee is valid,” the court said in ruling on the case. The High Court judges also upheld the earlier ruling that Lee and the other defendants had violated the National Security Act by promoting North Korean ideals. The court, however, dismissed the charge of conspiracy to revolt.
If Lee appeals Monday’s ruling, it will be the first time a case concerning a conspiracy to revolt is put up for the Supreme Court’s consideration in 34 years.
|Lee Seok-ki in the center (Yonhap)|
Lee is accused of forming an underground pro-North Korean organization and plotting an armed revolt. The group, known only as the “revolutionary organization,” is thought to have been formed within the East Gyeonggi Coalition and amount to around 130 members. The East Gyeonggi Coalition is a left-leaning political group that backs Lee.
According to the prosecution, Lee claimed at a meeting of the group in May 2012 that North Korea had effectively declared war and that they should prepare an offensive at a meeting of RO members.
“As of March 5, the North Korean People’s Army command declared the armistice agreement invalid. Scrapping the armistice agreement means war. Let’s prepare for war throughout the country,” Lee is quoted as saying.
Lee is also alleged to have called on his “comrades” to collaborate to show “limitless creative thinking” in their attacks.
Lee also allegedly told the attendants of his supporters’ rally in March 2013 that the parliament would become the “frontline for class strife,” and that the current political environment will lead to the separation of “revolutionary and anti-revolutionary (forces).”
Lee was found guilty in February and sentenced to a 12-year prison term, but the prosecution appealed saying that the sentence was too light considering the charges. The prosecution had initially sought the same penalties as it had done in the appeals trial.
Lee’s defense also argued that the evidence against him and the other suspects was manipulated by the National Intelligence Service.
Along with Lee, suspected RO members arrested on similar charges received between four- and seven-year prison terms in the February ruling for their part in the alleged plan.
Lee Sang-ho, Cho Yang-won and Kim Hong-yeol were sentenced to seven-year terms, while Hong Sun-seok and Han Dong-geun were sentenced to six- and four-year terms, respectively. The prison terms were accompanied by bans from public office for the same number of years.
The investigation into Lee also prompted the government to request the Constitutional Court to consider the constitutionality of the UPP. If the Constitutional Court rules that the party is unconstitutional, the UPP will be forced to disband.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com)