Court sentences serial killer to deathYoo Yeong-cheol, convicted of killing at least 20 people, was sentenced to death yesterday in Seoul Central District Court. Executions in Korea are carried out by hanging.
The 34-year-old Yoo, who was arrested on July 15, was found guilty of killing 11 young women believed to be involved in the sex trade and nine affluent senior citizens.
Mr. Yoo claimed the murders were a form of protest against prostitution and the wealthy who “accumulated riches by stealing from the poor.”
The court said that Mr. Yoo had claimed he was trying to reform society, but “the method and the reasons for the crimes were brutal. Thus he will be punished with the utmost severity.”
Dressed in a blue prison uniform, Mr. Yoo stood still, staring straight into the judge’s face as the sentence was passed. Mr. Yoo remained calm and followed prison guards quietly out of the court after the sentence was handed down.
The court struck down one murder charge, involving a woman in her 20s found dead in Imun-dong, northern Seoul, for which the judges said there was no evidence.
Prosecutors immediately objected and said they would appeal the last murder charge. “Just because he took his words back at the second hearing does not mean he is innocent of the killing,” said Lee Dong-ho, senior prosecutor of Seoul Central Prosecutors Office. “Nobody forced him to say that he had killed the woman in Imun-dong. We are taking this to court again.”
The last executions in Korea occurred on Dec. 31, 1997 and involved 23 persons convicted of capital offenses.
Mr. Yoo’s journey through the judicial system was eventful. He had originally been arrested on lesser charges, but was released before being identified as the murder suspect. At one hearing, he jumped up and ran toward the judges, yelling that he was tired of showing up in court to talk about his wrongdoings.
by Cheon In-seong, Lee Min-a