Pro-North Korea lawmaker’s jail term reduced to 9 years

August 11, 2014

By Lee Hyo-sik, Lee Kyung-min

The Seoul High Court on Monday reduced the 12-year prison sentence imposed on lawmaker Lee Seok-ki of the minor leftist Unified Progressive Party (UPP) for “instigating” a plot to overthrow the government, to a nine-year term.

In doing so it stated that there was a lack of evidence of “a conspiracy to overthrow the state.”

Lee Seok-ki

Lee Seok-ki

However, the court upheld guilty verdicts against Lee and other UPP members.

Among others, the court recognized the legality of a recording of Lee giving a speech to 130 participants on May 12 as key evidence. Its legality was disputed by lawyers for the leftist lawmaker.

Lee denied all the charges, describing the case as a “political ploy” to retaliate for his allegations that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) interfered in the 2012 presidential election.

The prosecution relied heavily on the testimony of a former member of Lee’s underground group, the Revolutionary Organization (RO).

The court said that many of allegations against Lee were substantiated and the credibility of the case proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

The prosecution and Lee’s lawyer fought intensely over whether the testimony of the 40-year-old informant and recordings from the meetings in May should be accepted by the court.

According to the ruling, Lee discussed how to destroy infrastructure and major military facilities in the event of a war.

It said that Lee and other RO members mentioned a plan to sabotage a petroleum depot in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, and telecommunication facilities in Hyehwa-dong, central Seoul, and Bundang, Gyeonggi Province.

Lee’s speech supported the North Korean ideology that Korea is a U.S. colony and he claimed that a regime independent from the U.S. should replace the current government, the court said.

The court confirmed the hierarchy of the RO and Lee’s leadership position.

The court also said Lee and another indicted member of the UPP violated the law by singing communist songs, the “Song of the Revolutionary Comrade” and the “Red Flag” and possessed banned documents and files.

On Feb. 17, Suwon District court sentenced Lee to 12 years in prison and suspended his civil rights for 10 years.

The prosecution had sought a 20-year prison term.

Six other UPP members, including Hong Sun-seok, vice chairman of the UPP’s Gyeonggi Province branch, were sentenced to prison terms ranging from four to seven years.

Both the prosecution and the defense appealed. The case is widely expected to head to the Supreme Court.

Lee and seven other UPP members are the first to be indicted and convicted of charges of conspiracy to stage an armed rebellion in 34 years since the trial of former President Kim Dae-jung in 1980, who was convicted of rebellion charges but acquitted later in a retrial.