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Facing death sentence, a serial killer hangs himself

Nov 23,2009
A convicted serial murderer on death row died yesterday after hanging himself in his prison cell, government officials said, suspecting he took his own life because of worry over public opinion urging enforcement of death sentences.

Jeong Nam-gyu, 40, died at 2:40 a.m. yesterday after being rushed to a hospital after he was discovered Saturday inside his cell at the Seoul Detention House in Uiwang, just south of Seoul, police and Justice Ministry officials said. The death row inmate hung himself with a makeshift rope made by plastic trash bags, tying it to a strut on the wall of his cell holding a television, according to the officials.

No will was discovered, but he left a memo on a notepad saying, “Life is like a cloud” and that the government has no intention of abolishing capital punishment.

A preliminary examination indicated he died of a heart attack and oxygen starvation. The ministry requested that the National Institute of Scientific Investigation perform an autopsy. Jeong was convicted in 2007 and was given the death penalty for killing 13 people and injuring seven others between January 2004 and April 2006, including two children he sexually assaulted. Many of the victims were women and children living in southwestern Seoul.

Since its foundation in 1948, South Korea has executed 920 people, according to a ministry report. The last execution was in December 1997.

There has been an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty since February 1998, when President Kim Dae-jung - who himself was sentenced to death in 1980, but was later pardoned - took office.

The administration and lawmakers have recently stepped up anti-crime efforts against murder suspects and child sex offenders following gruesome cases earlier this year.

Yonhap









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