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Students get suspended prison sentences for trespassing on U.S. envoy's residence

All News 13:25 April 29, 2020

SEOUL, April 29 (Yonhap) -- Four South Korean university students indicted for breaking into the United States ambassador's residence in Seoul last October were all given suspended prison sentences by a local court Wednesday.

The Seoul Central District Court sentenced the four students each to an imprisonment of one year, suspended for two years, after finding them guilty of obstruction of business charges.

The students were also ordered to conduct community service.

The four are among 17 student members of a progressive civic group who stormed into the residence of U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris in central Seoul on Oct. 18, 2019, by climbing over its wall using a ladder.

The students, all belonging to the so-called Korean Progressive University Student Union, staged the surprise break-in to protest Washington's demand for a hefty rise in Seoul's share of the cost for the upkeep of the 28,500-strong U.S. troops in South Korea. Ambassador Harris and his family were not at home at the time.

Members of a progressive association of Korean university students stage a protest inside the residence of U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris in Seoul on Oct. 18, 2019, in this photo captured from the group's Facebook account. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Police detained 19 student protesters, including two who attempted intrusion, on the scene and requested pretrial detention warrants for seven of them two days later. The Seoul Central District Court then issued detention warrants for four of them.

In the previous court hearing on April 22, prosecutors reportedly demanded prison terms ranging from 1 1/2 years to 2 1/2 years for the four students, who all claimed innocence in court.

"It is obvious that the accused had trespassed onto the residence of the U.S. ambassador. But the victims don't want their punishment," the Seoul court said.


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