The South Korean High Court for the Armed Forces has decided the case of four noncommissioned officers who were prosecuted as a result of the death death of a conscript, as outlined in this report. The recruit had been subjected to physical abuse and sexual humiliation. On what must have been a prosecution appeal, the court found two of them guilty of unpremeditated murder (rather than simple homicide), but the sentences were somewhat reduced.
In the initial trial, a 23-year-old sergeant was ordered to serve 30 years in prison, while the two corporals were given 25 years.
“The prosecution asked for life sentences, though the soldiers had no prior criminal records,” the high court said. “They are in their 20s and we believe rehabilitation is a possibility.”
The court added that it decided to reduce the others’ sentences because Sergeant Lee ordered them to participate. The high court also handed down a 10-year prison term to a 24-year-old staff sergeant overseeing the medical unit.One wonders about the rehabilitation comment. What will these offenders be like after 30 years in prison? How does the concept of rehabilitation apply if the released long-term inmate is a basket case?
“The officer was responsible for handling complaints, but he neglected to act and concealed the violence by prohibiting the victim’s parents from visiting,” the court said.
Impressively, the whole process, from offense to completion of appellate review, consumed just over a year.