Top S Korea court confirms jail term for pro-North MP

Top S Korea court confirms jail term for pro-North MP

SEOUL - South Korea's Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a nine-year prison sentence for a former leftist lawmaker convicted of inciting an armed revolt in the event of war breaking out with North Korea.

Lee Seok-Ki, a key member of the now-disbanded leftwing United Progressive Party (UPP), was first convicted of plotting a rebellion in February after a rare sedition trial involving a sitting member of the National Assembly.

But the 12-year sentence he received was reduced to nine-years on appeal after the high court ruled that Lee had not actually plotted a rebellion, but only encouraged one.

Thursday's ruling agreed there was no proof that an organisation for rebellion actually existed, and that Lee's guilt was therefore confined to the charge of incitement.

Chief Justice Yang Sung-Tae also confirmed that Lee had violated the South's strict National Security Law by praising North Korea.

Lee's treason trial had been the first of a lawmaker since the country's transformation from a military-backed autocracy to a fully-fledged democracy in the 1980s.

The National Security Law was adopted in 1948 to protect the fledgling government in the South against espionage from the North.

Rights activists have accused past administrations of using it to silence political opposition.

Last month the constitutional court disbanded Lee's party and ordered the forfeiture of all of its five seats in parliament after ruling its platform supported North Korea's ideological doctrine.

Rights groups denounced the decision saying that it flew in the face of freedom of expression.

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