As­sault charge for Easter bunny af­ter mall brawl

US cit­i­zen given 10 years hard labour by court

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

North Korea has sen­tenced a US cit­i­zen of Korean her­itage to 10 years in prison with hard labour af­ter con­vict­ing him of es­pi­onage and sub­ver­sion, the se­cond Amer­i­can it has put be­hind bars this year.

Kim Dong Chul was sen­tenced af­ter a brief trial in Py­ongyang by North Korea’s Supreme Court, which found him guilty of es­pi­onage and sub­ver­sion un­der Ar­ti­cles 60 and 64 of the North’s crim­i­nal code.

North Korea reg­u­larly ac­cuses Washington and Seoul of send­ing spies in an at­tempt to over­throw its gov­ern­ment. Out­siders say North Korea seeks to use its US de­tainees to wring con­ces­sions from Washington.

Fur­ther de­tails were not im­me­di­ately avail­able, how­ever when Kim was pa­raded be­fore the me­dia in Py­ongyang last month, he said he had col­lab­o­rated with and spied for South Korean in­tel­li­gence au­thor­i­ties in a plot to bring down the North’s lead­er­ship and had tried to spread re­li­gion among North Kore­ans be­fore his ar­rest in the city of Ra­son last Oc­to­ber.

Some pre­vi­ously ar­rested for­eign­ers have read dec­la­ra­tions of guilt that they later said were co­erced.

In March, North Korea sen­tenced Otto Warm­bier, an Amer­i­can uni­ver­sity stu­dent, to 15 years in prison with hard labour. It said he en­gaged in anti-state ac­tiv­i­ties while vis­it­ing the coun­try as a tourist ear­lier this year.

South Korea’s Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice, the coun­try’s main spy agency, has said Kim’s case isn’t re­lated to the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Gabrielle Price, US State Depart­ment spokes­woman for East Asia and the Pa­cific, said the US was aware of the re­ports that a US cit­i­zen has been sen­tenced to 10 years of hard labour, but could not com­ment fur­ther due to pri­vacy con­sid­er­a­tions. Ac­cord­ing to depart­ment pol­icy, the US can only com­ment pub­licly on cases in which the cit­i­zen has signed a pri­vacy waiver.

Most Amer­i­cans who have been sen­tenced to long prison terms have been re­leased be­fore serv­ing their full time. North Korea has of­ten waited un­til se­nior US of­fi­cials or states­men came per­son­ally to seek the re­lease of the de­tainees, all the way up to for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, whose visit in 2009 se­cured the free­dom of Amer­i­can jour­nal­ists Euna Lee and Laura Ling. Both had crossed North Korea’s bor­der from China il­le­gally.

About 28,000 Amer­i­can troops are de­ployed in South Korea to de­ter po­ten­tial ag­gres­sion from North Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. An Easter bunny who got into a brawl with an an­gry shopper at a mall in the United States has had a crim­i­nal charge against him down­graded. Kas­sim Charles was play­ing the role of an Easter bunny at a shopping cen­tre in New Jersey last month when he was at­tacked by Juan JimenezGuer­rero whose daugh­ter had fallen off a chair while hav­ing her pic­ture taken. The pair traded blows and Charles was charged with ag­gra­vated as­sault. How­ever, a Hud­son County judge has re­duced the charge to the dis­or­derly per­sons of­fence of sim­ple as­sault. Charles’ de­fence at­tor­ney says they look for­ward to vin­di­cat­ing “the bunny”. An up­date on an ag­gra­vated as­sault charge against Jimenez-Guer­rero was un­avail­able. Jimenez-Guer­rero’s wife says he was try­ing to pro­tect their child. NJ.com re­ported that Charles could have faced three to five years in state prison if con­victed of the more se­ri­ous charge of ag­gra­vated as­sault. In mu­nic­i­pal court how­ever, he is now only fac­ing up to six months in the Hud­son County jail if con­victed of sim­ple as­sault. A video emerged on­line of the pair the pair trad­ing be­lows in the bizarre scuf­fle on March 20.

AC­CUSED: Kim Dong Chul in cus­tody in North Korea

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