Prosecutors ask court to put ‘nut rage’ heiress in jail for 3 years

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Prosecutors ask court to put ‘nut rage’ heiress in jail for 3 years

Prosecutors asked a court Monday to send former Korean Air Vice President Cho Hyun-ah to jail for three years for the “nut rage” incident that brought so much scorn on Korea last year.

The request came at the final hearing in a trial in which Park Chang-Jin, the purser ejected from the flight from New York’s JFK Airport to Seoul on Dec. 5, testified, confronting Cho for the first time since the incident.

After being served macadamia nuts in a bag rather than on a plate in first class, Cho had an altercation with a flight attendant surnamed Kim. Park intervened and a furious Cho demanded the flight return to a gate to eject him.

Cho was accused of five charges, including violating aviation safety laws for changing the flight route, committing violence that impedes flight safety and obstruction of business.

“It is true that I ordered Park to get off the flight,” Cho testified Monday. “But I never ordered the flight returned to the gate. I didn’t know the flight was moving.”

Cho’s legal team has claimed that Cho didn’t alter the flight route because that only refers to a plane’s route in the sky, not on the runway. Prosecutors say the flight route begins when the plane’s door is closed.

Park Chang-jin, who returned to work after 50 days on Sunday, stated that he felt a “violation of human rights” due to Cho’s physical and verbal abuse.

“Cho has never shown any reflection on the incident,” Park said. “She trampled on my pride and humiliated me. She was yelling like a beast looking for its prey.” He appeared at the court in his Korean Air uniform.

Park revealed to the media in December that Cho abused him physically and verbally by jabbing with the corner of a service manual and ordering him to kneel down.

Cho admitted that she committed verbal violence, threw the service manual on the floor and thrust her finger at flight attendants. But she denied physical violence to Park.

“I haven’t received an apology from [Hangjin Group Chairman] Cho Yang-ho and he’s done nothing to help me settle back in my position. I felt that the company tried to classify me as an “employee who requires special attention,’” Park added.

Park said that in February he was mainly assigned to flights that departed at dawn, which are the “toughest.” He was also assigned to fly with unfamiliar crews, Park testified.

At the previous hearing in the trial on Jan. 30, Chairman Cho Yang-ho, who is the father of the defendant, vowed no recriminations against Park and said he would make sure that “Park receives no disadvantages because of the incident.”

“I would like to apologize for my inconsiderate behavior to my employees. I focused on making our flight service the best in the world.” Cho Hyun-ah testified Monday. “As a mom, I would like to request favorable arrangements from the court so I can go back to my two children.”

“Cho misused her private authority and broke the law,” the prosecution said. “She also took control of a means of transportation that has to be used for the public and threatened aviation safety.”

The court will hold a final hearing to announce its ruling and Cho’s sentence at 3 p.m. on Feb. 12.

BY PARK YUNA [ypc3c@joongang.co.kr]

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