Foreigners won’t face dual criminal penalties

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Foreigners won’t face dual criminal penalties

Foreigners convicted of criminal charges in South Korea cannot be automatically punished for violating immigration laws if they entered the country legally, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

Until now, all foreign convicted criminals in South Korea were additionally punished for violating immigration laws regardless of their legal status here.

Prosecutors last year indicted a 26-year-old Chinese man who was involved in a telephone fraud scam.

He had entered the country in November 2008 on a one-month travel visa.

Lower courts later sentenced him to a one-year prison term him on fraud charges but acquitted him of violating immigration laws.

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the lower court ruling, saying that committing crimes while staying on a tourist visa does not necessarily constitute a violation of immigration laws.

The top court noted that a simultaneous application of the criminal and immigration laws could be seen as an excessive interpretation of the laws.

Under current law, foreigners staying in South Korea illegally can be sentenced to a maximum of three years in jail or fined up to 20 million won ($17,600).

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