SKorea union leader gets 5 years for violent protest

Seoul court hands down sentence to KCTU leader who sought refuge at temple for nearly a month before turning himself in

SKorea union leader gets 5 years for violent protest

World Bulletin / News Desk

One of South Korea’s best known union leaders, Han Sang-gyun, was given a five-year prison sentence Monday for his part in organizing a violent street protest involving tens of thousands of people last year.

The Nov. 14 rally in central Seoul saw police fire powerful water cannons in the direction of protesters, one of whom was so seriously injured that he is yet to regain consciousness.

The incident became a focal point for complaints about authorities’ heavy-handedness, and intensified criticisms over a wide range of government policies.

United Nations Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai subsequently raised concerns about the rights of South Koreans to hold protests, but Seoul Central District Court did not apparently take into consideration the claim that the police provoked violence due to oppressive tactics.

Han’s legal team is set to appeal the sentence, which reflected his involvement in illegal rallies dating back to 2012.

Meanwhile, supporters gathered at the court to deliver a defiant press statement vowing to continue their “struggle”.

The 53-year-old head of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) had been elected on the promise that he would turn the organization into the president’s “greatest fear”.

He hid at a Buddhist temple in Seoul for weeks after November’s rally, temporarily evading allegations such as helping to orchestrate violence and handing out basic tools aimed at causing destruction.

Overall, Han was linked to injuries suffered by 76 police officers and damage to 43 police buses.

“Some of the protesters tried to pull the buses with ropes and even brandished metal pipes at police officers,” Seoul Central District Court said in a ruling carried by local news agency Yonhap.

“The defendant took a role by preparing and distributing the equipment, such as ropes and ladders to climb over the bus barricades.”

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Temmuz 2016, 16:12