U.S. envoy’s attacker had intent to kill: Prosecution

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U.S. envoy’s attacker had intent to kill: Prosecution

A radical Korean activist who attacked U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Mark Lippert last month was indicted on Wednesday for attempted murder, prosecutors said.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office added that 55-year-old Kim Ki-jong was also formally charged with assaulting a foreign envoy and obstruction of duty.

On March 5, Kim slashed Lippert in the face with a knife at a breakfast forum at the Sejong Center for Performing Arts in Seoul.

Lippert suffered injuries to his cheek and arm, requiring two surgeries and 80 stitches to his face that resulted in a five-day hospital stay.

Kim, the founder of Woori Madang, a unification research group, has maintained that he did not mean to kill the American envoy.

However, the prosecution determined that Kim intended to kill Lippert based on the location of the top envoy’s injuries and Kim’s use of a lethal weapon - a 24-centimeter (9-inch) knife - which he used to slash the ambassador multiple times.

The gash on Lippert’s cheek was 11 centimeters long, and Kim narrowly missed a neck artery by 1 to 2 centimeters, prosecutors said.

“The crime was premeditated and [the criminal] chose a weapon that could have resulted in fatality,” an official with the prosecution said.

The blade was also bent, a testament to how strong the blow was.

After being handed the case from police on March 14, prosecutors consulted with two of Lippert’s surgeons and reviewed his hospital records to form their conclusion. However, they said they would need to conduct a further internal probe to confirm whether Kim, who purportedly had a pro-North Korea agenda, violated the National Security Law and if other people were involved in the incident.

Kim testified that he is opposed to the ongoing joint military drills between Washington and Seoul, which he said is why he attacked Lippert.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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