Activist who assaulted Japanese envoy set free

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Activist who assaulted Japanese envoy set free

A South Korean activist indicted for throwing stones at Japan’s top diplomat in Seoul in July was given a suspended two-year prison term during a court hearing Monday.

Kim Ki-jong, 50, a representative of a Seoul-based activist group opposing Japan’s claims to the easternmost South Korean islets of Dokdo, was arrested on July 7 after he attacked Toshinori Shigeie, the Japanese ambassador to South Korea at the time, while the diplomat was giving a speech on bilateral relations at a forum in downtown Seoul.

The envoy dodged the stones thrown by Kim, but one of his aides suffered a minor hand injury.

The Seoul Central District Court sentenced Kim to two years in prison but suspended the sentence for three years, citing the defendant’s clean criminal record and repentance as well as the Japanese victims’ wish not to have the attacker punished.

“If [people] commit violence against foreign envoys on the grounds of claiming different opinions over territorial sovereignty, it will disturb foreign relations and cause conflicts as a result,” the court said. “Such behavior cannot be accepted in our society.”

With Monday’s ruling, Kim was released. The prosecution had demanded a four-year jail term.

During the trial, Kim pleaded guilty but said he had no intention to hurt the envoy. He said he accidentally hurled the stones after his attempts to deliver documents regarding Japan’s territorial claims were blocked by security guards. Yonhap
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