Assault charge for Easter bunny after mall brawl
US citizen given 10 years hard labour by court
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