Army killer given death sentence

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Army killer given death sentence

An Army sergeant who killed five of his fellow soldiers in a shooting spree at a border post was sentenced to death by a military court on Tuesday.

The court martial of the 1st Army in Wonju, Gangwon, convicted the 23-year-old sergeant identified as Lim for the “cruel and premeditated crime” of murdering and injuring fellow soldiers, handing down the heaviest punishment.

“The suspect committed the persistent and meticulous crime of killing unarmed fellow soldiers at the barracks,” the court martial said. “For the ruthless crime of shooting innocent fellow soldiers, we have to hand down capital punishment.”

Lim was indicted in August on charges of killing five fellow soldiers and injuring seven others on the evening of June 21, 2014. After Lim finished his shift, he went back to the barracks and detonated a grenade. He then opened fire on his fellow soldiers inside and around the barracks at the frontline General Outpost (GOP) of the 22nd Infantry Division in Goseong.

After the killing spree, Lim fled the scene carrying live ammunitions but was captured alive by the military after a 23-hour standoff and a failed suicide attempt.

“Although the suspect is young, has no record of prior crimes and had an unfortunate childhood during his school years, these cannot be excuses,” the court martial said. “During the past six months, the suspect didn’t even submit a single page of a written apology, showing no signs of remorse. He only pleaded his pain and blamed his fellow soldiers for this incident.”

Throughout the trial, Lim argued that he had committed the crime because of bullying at the barracks. In addition, a 20-day psychological evaluation the court ordered on Lim showed that he had no signs of mental illness.

The court martial convicted Lim on all other charges against him, including armed desertion. Because the general outpost where the shooting spree took place is located in a frontline operational zone, Lim received heavier punishment under the military’s criminal code.

Under the current law governing a military court martial, a suspect sentenced to death has no right to give up his appeal. Lim’s automatic appeal will be tried by the high court at the Ministry of National Defense.

BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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