S. Korea judge convicts poet of libelling president

SEOUL - A South Korean court on Thursday convicted a prominent poet of libelling President Park Geun-Hye before her election victory last year, after a jury had decided he was not guilty.

The court judge in the southern city of Jeonju found Ahn Do-Hyun, 52, had libelled the then-ruling party presidential candidate, by repeating 17 times on his Twitter account an allegation that she had acquired the stolen possessions of a famous pro-independence fighter.

Ahn was ordered to pay a one million won (S$1,167) fine, but the sentence was suspended for two years.

On October 28 a seven-person jury in the case acquitted Ahn, but the judge disagreed with their conclusion and delayed a final ruling until Thursday.

South Korea began experimenting with juries in 2008 to try to increase civil participation in criminal trials.

A jury is used at the request of the defendant, but its verdict is non-binding and the final ruling is always made by a judge.

Ahn accused Park of complicity in the theft of documents hand-written by renowned independence fighter An Jung-Geun.

In 1909, with Korea on the verge of annexation by Japan, An had assassinated the then-Japanese Resident-General of Korea, Ito Hirobumi. He was arrested and executed the following year.