Child killer, rapist gets the death sentence

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Child killer, rapist gets the death sentence

BUSAN - A local court yesterday handed down a death sentence to Kim Kil-tae, whose brutal rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl in Busan in February ignited public fury.

Even as his sentence brought the number of death-row inmates in Korea to 58, experts said it is uncertain that he will ever be executed - despite mounting public anger and calls for vengeance for sex crimes against children.

“The death penalty is an exception in civilized society, but the court made its decision after considering the immense physical and mental pain the victim and her family suffered,” said Judge Ku Nam-su, who presided over the trial in Busan District Court.

“The ruling also acts as a strong warning to criminals that the life of a victim is no less important than the life of the defendant.”

The court said although Kim, 33, denied kidnapping, raping and murdering Lee Yu-ri, there was enough evidence, including DNA and footprints at her house, to find him guilty.

Before attacking Lee, Kim served 11 years in prison for two rapes.

“Considering his previous record, his repeated inhumane and antisocial crimes, his killing of a young victim to satisfy his sexual desire and his lack of remorse, there is a need to permanently isolate the defendant from society,” Ku said. The judge ordered that until Kim is executed, he must wear an electronic anklet for 20 years and, in case of parole, make his criminal record public for 10 years.

Kim turned pale and lowered his head when the verdict was read.

The death penalty is a contentious issue in Korea, which has not carried out an execution since 1998, when President Kim Dae-jung took office. Kim’s successor, Roh Moo-hyun, attempted to repeal the death penalty on human rights grounds, but the drive met fierce protests as crimes became increasingly violent.

Demands for severe punishment of child sex offenders have grown intense since Cho Du-sun, 57, received a 12-year sentence for beating and raping 8-year-old Na-young in a public toilet in 2008. The child was assaulted so viciously that many of her internal organs shut down.

Grand National Party lawmaker Lee Ae-joo yesterday called for more stringent action.

“Public anger has reached its peak as the government failed to keep children safe from cruel sex criminals,” Lee said. “I urge the National Assembly members to adopt a resolution to execute Kim.”


By Kim Mi-ju, Kim Sang-jin [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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