New law to punish crimes that kill

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New law to punish crimes that kill

In the wake of the tragic Sewol ferry sinking, authorities are mulling a special law that will award jail terms of up to 100 years to people responsible for accidents or crimes that result in two or more deaths.

The Ministry of Justice said yesterday that it is preparing a special law for multiple offenses that lead to the death of many victims through which courts can punish criminals by combining the jail sentences for each count.

Under current law, the punishment for people convicted of multiple criminal acts that resulted in multiple casualties is 100 to 150 percent of the term for the most serious of those criminal acts.

The Ministry of Justice is also planning to raise the ceiling for imprisonments from 50 years to a full century.

As parole can be considered after a convict serves a third of his or her prison term, prisoners who receive sentences of 100 years will not be released in the first 33 years.

For life sentences, parole will only be considered after 40 years up from the current 20 years.

The ministry added that the special law will be applied to crimes that cause two or more deaths, and would encompass both accidents, such as negligence that leads to ship or airplane wrecks, or deliberate crimes like acts of terrorism or serial killings.

This new law is prompted by President Park Geun-hye’s statement on May 19 in which she said “there will be serious punishment” for people who are found responsible for accidents resulting in many deaths.

“Even after causing a series of crimes that left massive casualties, those who were liable for the accidents have not been punished strictly,” an official of the ministry said.

“When the special law is implemented, the legal authorities will be able to punish criminals who caused multiple fatalities to a degree that the public will be satisfied by, and it is also expected to contribute to a safer society.”

BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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