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Top court confirms 12-year term for U.S. envoy attacker

11:29 September 28, 2016

SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- The country's top court on Wednesday sentenced a 56-year-old South Korean man to 12 years in prison for attempting to murder the top U.S. envoy to South Korea.

The Supreme Court found Kim Ki-jong guilty of attacking Amb. Mark Lippert with a knife at a breakfast function in Seoul in March 2015, leaving the U.S. ambassador with deep gashes on his face and arm that needed more than 80 stitches. Kim said the attack was a show of discontent over bilateral military drills that were ongoing at that time.

The 12-year term includes an additional 18 months that was handed down to Kim for assaulting a prison guard and a doctor.

Prosecutors here have been arguing that the 56-year-old should be punished on charges of violating the National Security Law, which prevents South Korean citizens from contacting North Koreans without government approval or engaging in activities benefiting the North.

Lower courts, however, said just because some of the arguments made by Kim coincide with those made by North Korea does not make him a person who engages in anti-national activities that help the communist state. The top court upheld the lower courts' decision.

Kim Ki-jong enters a Seoul court on March 6, 2015, to be questioned on the legality of an arrest warrant sought by prosecutors for the attempted murder of U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert. Kim slashed Lippert on the face and wrist in a show of discontent over bilateral military drills. (Yonhap)

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