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Court takes 7 years off captain's jail term

By Li Qian (Shanghai Daily)

08:26, September 14, 2012

A South Korean court has reduced the sentence on a Chinese fishing boat captain who fatally stabbed a Korean coast guard officer last December from 30 years to 23 years.

But Seoul High Court told Cheng Dawei, 43, at a second hearing yesterday that a fine of 20 million won (US$17,727) would stand, the Beijing-based Legal Daily reported. Another Chinese skipper, Liu Liancheng, was jailed for four years while eight crew members received jail terms of up to two years for "interfering with public administration."

On December 12, South Korean officers boarded Cheng's boat suspected of entering South Korea's exclusive economic zone in the Yellow Sea. South Korean media said the captain killed a 41-year-old officer and injured another man.

At Cheng's trial in April, prosecutors called for the death penalty. Cheng told the court the officer's death was accidental as he was acting in self-defense.

Yesterday, the court recognized it lacked conclusive evidence to charge Cheng with murder and thus handed down a lighter sentence, Hu Xianpang, Cheng's lawyer, said. Hu said he would be talking to Cheng today to decide whether to lodge an appeal.

Chinese fishermen who fish the open sea are frequently stopped by armed South Korean troops, China National Radio reported.

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