South Korean sergeant sentenced to death for killing members of his unit

Story highlights

  • The sergeant threw a grenade and shot at his fellow soldiers last year
  • The death penalty is effectively life in prison without parole in South Korea

Seoul, South Korea (CNN)A South Korean military court has sentenced a sergeant to death for killing five members of his unit last year, authorities said Tuesday.

The sergeant, surnamed Lim, threw a grenade and shot at his fellow soldiers at a base in a remote area near the heavily fortified border with North Korea in June. Two days later, surrounded by military forces, he was captured after shooting himself in the shoulder.
    "Lim committed a tenacious and premeditated crime by killing even unarmed colleagues at the barracks," the chief judge of the military court said in the verdict Tuesday, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap. "Capital punishment is inevitable for such a hideous crime."
    Military prosecutors had demanded the death penalty for Lim on charges of murder and desertion, Yonhap reported.
    A death sentence is effectively the equivalent of life in prison without parole in South Korea, where no executions have been carried out since 1997. Around 60 convicts are on death row in the country.
    Lim's case will go to appeal at a higher military court, Defense Ministry spokesman Kwon Ki-hyun told CNN.
    The soldier's defense lawyer said the court had ignored a lot of testimony about the bullying of his client at the barracks, according to Yonhap.
    Lim was three months from the end of his compulsory military service when he carried out the attack on his unit. He had been categorized as a soldier in need of special attention, according to the Defense Ministry.