Defendant gets 13 years in ‘murder without body’

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Defendant gets 13 years in ‘murder without body’

The so-called “murder without a corpse” has a verdict: Guilty.

A Seoul Central District Court jury early yesterday convicted the defendant, surnamed Park, of killing his acquaintance, surnamed Cho.

He was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Because authorities failed to find either a burial site or body, prosecutors were forced to rely on testimony from witnesses and other evidence.

Park, a forklift driver, borrowed a total of 12.9 million won ($11,326) from the missing victim in 2007 and 2008 to launch a joint business producing fake Chinese passports.

But as the enterprise struggled, the 36-year-old Cho pressured Park to return the money, threatening to file a lawsuit against him for fraud.

The prosecutors argued that the suspect buried Cho in Yongin, Gyeonggi, after the victim lost consciousness from being struck in the neck by Park in April 2008.

The trial by jury was at the request of Park, who claimed his innocence in the case, and began hearing testimony and evidence on Monday.

The last day of trial took more than 12 hours, ending at 10:30 p.m. as prosecutors and the defendant’s legal counsel fiercely argued the case.

Park’s lawyers alleged that it was far-fetched to charge Park with murder just because Cho was missing.

Prosecutors countered the defense team’s argument by putting Park’s live-in girlfriend on the witness stand. She testified that Park had confessed his crime to her.

The defendant argued his girlfriend had made a false report to the authorities of his crime because she wanted compensation from him. He claimed the alleged victim is in China with a fake passport that he made for him.

In his closing argument, the 41-year-old Park said he could bring Cho back from China within 10 days.

The nine-member jury deliberated until 3 a.m., finally reaching their unanimous verdict that Park did murder his once-close, missing friend.

“It is true that neither the burial site nor the body has been found. However, testimony from witnesses, in addition to the fact that Park did not attempt to search for the victim even though the two were close friends, casts a strong case to constitute a judgment of a conviction,” the court stated in handing down the sentence.

The court added it ruled on the 13-year jail term based on a majority opinion of the jury.

By Kang Jin-kyu, Jeong Won-yeob []
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