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Prosecutors seek prison sentence for umbrella union leader accused of organizing violent protests

All Headlines 17:20 December 03, 2019

SEOUL, Dec. 3 (Yonhap) -- The prosecution on Tuesday requested a four-year prison sentence for the leader of a progressive umbrella union on charges of orchestrating "illegal protests" early this year.

The prosecution made the request to the Seoul Nambu District Court during the final hearing on the charges against Kim Myeong-hwan, chairman of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU).

Kim and other KCTU members were accused of pulling down parts of the fence surrounding the National Assembly in Seoul and attempting to force their way into its compound illegally during their protests in front of the legislature between late March and early April to block the passage of labor bills aimed at extending the operation of a flextime work hours system to six months from three.

The accused assaulted police officers, injuring six of them, during their fierce protest on April 3, according to prosecutors.

A policeman is struck in the face by Korean Confederation of Trade Unions members during their protest against a labor law revision in front of the National Assembly in Seoul on April 3, 2019. (Yonhap)

"It's possible to express various opinions in a democratic society, but it should take place within the legal boundary," the prosecution said at the court.

Kim's lawyer did not deny the charges, but insisted what is more important, in this case, is what the KCTU was trying to make people recognize through its struggles.

"Their acts were basically for irregular or non-unionized workers who cannot raise their voice against controversial minimum wage and flextime systems," the lawyer claimed.

"The revision of such systems for the worse is directly connected to laborers' livelihoods. Therefore, the KCTU advanced to the National Assembly in a desperate struggle to fend it off," Kim said in his final comment.

Kim Myeong-hwan (L), leader of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, walks out of a detention center in Seoul on June 27, 2019, a week after being arrested on charges of masterminding assaults on police during outdoor rallies. A Seoul court approved Kim's release on a bail of 100 million won (US$86,360). (Yonhap) (END)


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