South Korean Soldier Sentenced to 35 Years for Murdering Comrade

luvsmiling, April 9, 2015, 10:39 a.m.

A military appellate court Thursday sentenced an Army sergeant to 35 years behind bars for beating his junior comrade to death.  The sergeant, surnamed Lee, was convicted of killing the 23-year-old Army private first class, surnamed Yoon, by inflicting injuries at their frontline unit on the east coast in April last year.

Yoon died after being hit in the chest by six of his colleagues, including Lee, while eating snacks at their barracks.  The assault caused a piece of food to obstruct his airway, leading him to die of asphyxiation, according to Army investigators.

His death was also found to be the result of damage to his skeletal muscle caused by repeated brutal assaults for about a month.  The military appellate court also ruled that another sergeant, surnamed Ha, and two corporals should face 12 years in prison; a staff sergeant 10 years; and a private first class a fine of 3 million (US$2,746) won, convicting them of murder.

“Our judgment is that the defendants had been aware that the victim might have been dead while assaulting him,” the chief judge said. “What they had done is appalling behavior beyond imagination.”
In October, the lower court dismissed murder charges sought by the prosecution, while handing down more severe rulings of 45 years in jail at maximum. The prosecution had demanded capital punishment for some of the accused for murder.

The case, which was brought to light belatedly in a media report, is among a series of incidents that have laid bare the chronic problem of bullying in the barracks and a rigid military culture.  In June last year, an Army sergeant who had been bullied by his comrades went on a shooting spree at a border outpost on the east coast, killing five soldiers and wounding seven others.  All able-bodied South Korean men are subject to compulsory military service for about two years in a country facing North Korea across the heavily fortified border.’

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