The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae expressed a wariness to strengthen the punishment for crimes committed under the influence of alcohol Wednesday, noting the move may lead to unnecessarily harsh penalties for all alcohol-related crimes.
The reaction came in response to a petition posted on the website of Cheong Wa Dae that drew support from over 200,000 people. The presidential office has promised to offer a response to any petition with signatories that exceed the threshold in less than 30 days.
The petition, posted Nov. 4, called for a revision of a law to ban any leniency toward those convicted of crimes while being under the influence of alcohol.
Cho Kuk (Yonhap)
Cho Kuk, the top presidential secretary for civil affairs, said the criminal code currently did not allow, let alone ensure, leniency for those committing crimes under the influence but noted leniency was often offered to those deemed unconscious or insentient at the time of their crimes.
"The clause is not aimed at reducing punishment for crimes committed under the influence of alcohol but largely deals with cases that may deserve leniency, so deleting the entire clause may require a very careful discussion," Cho said while appearing on a live show broadcast by Cheong Wa Dae on a social network service.
Noting the petition was initially prompted by the scheduled release of a convicted child molester who, by a mistake committed by the prosecution, was offered such leniency, the presidential official said the law has already been revised to ban legal leniency for sexual criminals.
In a separate petition, more than 600,000 people signed to demand an extension of the child molester's 12-year jail sentence, set to end in 2020.
Cho dismissed the possibility, saying a retrial of a convicted criminal is only possible when it is in favor of the convict. (Yonhap)