Kenyan refugee sentenced to 25 years in prison for murder

Hannah Kim, May 20, 2016, 10:58 a.m.

A 28-year-old Kenyan who had been undergoing the process to obtain refugee status in Korea was sentenced to 25 years in prison Friday for murdering a computer cafe assistant. According to the Gwangju district court that gave the ruling, the man had visited the immigration office the day before his crime, asking for repatriation. 

The office did nothing for him as he was not an illegal immigrant, rather a refugee applicant. The man entered Korea on a three-month visa in July 2015, with global nongovernmental organization UNESCO’s International Workcamp project. 

Just before his visa expired, in August 2015, he applied for refugee status based on financial situation and remained in Korea while undergoing screening. 

After his plea to return to his home country was rejected by the immigration office, the man brutally murdered a 38-year-old man who worked at a computer cafe using spoons and chopsticks that he stuck inside the victim’s mouth. He later damaged the dead victim’s body and took 184,000 won ($154) from his wallet. 

The murder took place in Yongbong-dong, Buk-gu in the city of Gwangju in March. 

He stayed at the cafe for another hour and also stole a customer’s cellphone and jacket before running away. He was arrested later in the day in the same neighborhood by police.

The police said the man displayed irrational behavior at the time he was held under police custody, such as screaming and vandalizing the jail cell and bulletproof glass door. He was contained with handcuffs and belts. 

At the courtroom, where he showed a contrasting calmness, the man claimed he had been hallucinating when he committed the crime. However, psychological tests revealed nothing out of the ordinary in the man’s mental state. 

Computer cafes, or “PC rooms,” are where people can rent computers to play games or surf the Internet with friends. These cafes often boast super-fast Internet connections as well as high-tech facilities and software programs. 

The man confessed to his crimes but did not clarify why he killed the employee. Prosecutors had sought lifetime imprisonment for the man, but the court handed down 25 years.  

Meanwhile, a Korean pastor and his wife who beat the pastor’s daughter to death were respectively sentenced to 20 years and 15 years Friday.

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