Tirade by opposition solon gets conviction

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Tirade by opposition solon gets conviction

Overturning an initial acquittal, an appeals court in Seoul yesterday convicted the head of the Democratic Labor Party, Representative Kang Ki-kab, of obstruction of justice for a violent tirade at the National Assembly.

In January 2009, Kang was among opposition legislators who staged violent protests against the ruling Grand National Party’s decision to lock out legislators from the main opposition Democratic Party and the Democratic Labor Party after weeks of confrontation over sensitive bills, including a series of media industry reform measures.

Liberal opposition parties fiercely protested the bills, and Kang stormed through the office of Park Kye-dong, then the National Assembly’s secretary general, on Jan. 5, 2009, flipping over tables and chairs. He also jumped on a table.

Kang was charged with obstruction of justice but the Seoul Western District Court acquitted him last January and ruled that he had not been in control of his emotions. After the acquittal, the prosecution appealed the decision, and the same court’s appellate division convicted Kang and ordered him to pay 3 million won ($2,584) in fines.

While Judge Lee Dong-yeon, who acquitted Kang earlier this year, said Kang’s emotional rampage did not qualify as obstruction of justice because Secretary General Park was only reading a newspaper at the time of the outburst, Judge Park Dae-jun, who was in charge of the appellate trial, said yesterday that it was obstruction of justice because reading a newspaper is one of the duties of a National Assembly secretary general.

While Judge Lee said Kang’s yelling and kicking could be seen as an expression of party stance, Judge Park convicted Kang of inflicting damages and said he should have known the table would be damaged by his acts.

The Democratic Labor Party said yesterday’s conviction was an “unfair, political judgment.”

“The appeals court found the unavoidable action made by a minority party to stop the evil media bills guilty, giving a green light to the Grand National Party’s overbearing operation of the National Assembly,” said DLP spokeswoman Wu Wi-yeong. “The ruling will further encourage the GNP’s heavy-handed operation of the legislature, and minority opposition parties’ democratic space will further shrink.”

The DLP said it will appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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