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(LEAD) Court finds poet guilty of defaming President Park

All Headlines 15:25 November 07, 2013

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with more information in paras 4-9; ADDS photo)

JEONJU, South Korea, Nov. 7 (Yonhap) -- A district court on Thursday found a renowned poet guilty of defaming President Park Geun-hye ahead of last year's presidential election, overturning the jury's not-guilty verdict.

Ahn Do-hyun was found guilty of raising accusations on his Twitter account 17 times ahead of the Dec. 19 vote that Park, the then ruling presidential candidate, actually owns stolen relics of Ahn Joong-geun, a prominent freedom fighter during Japanese colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula a century ago.

The poet was co-chairman of the campaign headquarters for opposition candidate Moon Jae-in at the time.

Overturning the unanimous non-guilty verdict reached by seven jurors on Oct. 28, the Jeonju District Court postponed delivering a fine of 1 million won (US$943) to Ahn for the charge of violating the country's election laws.

"The opinion of the jurors is effective only in deciding the degree of the punishment not in determining whether the defendant is guilty or not," the court said in its ruling.

The court, however, acquitted Ahn of charges that he spread false information, saying that "there is not enough proof to conclude that (Ahn) did not make enough efforts to confirm the authenticity (of the information)."

The country introduced a jury system in 2008 on a limited basis to promote citizen participation in the judicial process. The system is adopted when a defendant asks the court to have civilians hear the case. The jury's verdict is non-binding, and the court still holds a bench trial, in which a judge makes all the decisions.

Judges usually agree with the jury's decision in trials under the jury trial system.

In Ahn's case, the jurors previously found Ahn not guilty of spreading false or defamatory information about Park. The panel of judges, however, disagreed with the result and postponed delivering the ruling.

Following the Thursday's verdict, Ahn said that he would appeal the verdict.

"It feels like (I am) a butterfly stuck in a spider's web created by a panel of judges," Ahn told reporters.

khj@yna.co.kr
(END)

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