Chinese fisherman may get death penalty
By Lee Hyo-sik
A Chinese fisherman is facing the death sentence here for stabbing a member of the Korea Coast Guard (KCG) while illegally operating in South Korean waters last December.
The Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office said Thursday that it asked the court to sentence the 43-year-old captain of a 66-ton Chinese fishing boat to death on charges of murdering KCG officer Lee Cheong-ho, 41, while the latter was clamping down on the illegally-fishing trawler.
The prosecution also demanded the court sentence nine other Chinese sailors, who resisted arrest using sharp objects against KCG officers, up to two years in prison for obstruction of justice.
“We decided to seek the death penalty for the Chinese captain because the murder was premeditated. Additionally, he never reached a settlement with Lee’s bereaved family for compensation,” a prosecutor said. “The bereaved family also wants the Chinese to be strictly punished in accordance with the law. Given all these considerations, we think the Chinese captain deserves the most severe punishment.”
The prosecutor then said what the Chinese fishermen did posed a serious threat to Korea’s governmental authority. “To prevent such an incident from happening again, stern action must be taken against those illicitly operating in our waters and wield violence against law enforcement officials.”
The first trial is set to open at Incheon District Court at 10 a.m. on April 19.
On Dec. 12, 2011, the Incheon Coast Guard spotted a 66-ton Chinese boat fishing illegally in waters 85 kilometers southwest of Socheong Island near the maritime border with North Korea in the West Sea. Lee and 15 other KCG officers, who were in two high-speed patrol boats, approached the Chinese trawler.
Despite fierce resistance, KCG officers were able to board the boat and apprehend the Chinese fishermen. While taking them into custody, a violent clash broke out between the boat captain and Lee.
The fisherman then stabbed the 41-year-old corporal in the ribs with a sharp object. The coastguard was immediately transferred to Inha University Hospital in Incheon but was pronounced dead several hours later due to excessive bleeding.