07/11/2018, 13.47
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Supreme Court frees conscientious objector for the first time

The sentence follows a decision by the Constitutional Court upholding the right of South Koreans to an alternative. One objector, Kim, received an 18-month prison sentence for refusing on religious grounds. The court will eventually rule on this and other cases.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – For the first time, the Supreme Court announced that it will release a conscientious objector on bail.

This follows the latest Constitutional Court ruling that partially upheld the right to an alternative to compulsory military service.

Kim, 23, was sentenced to 18 months in prison by a lower court because he refused to serve on religious grounds. His is one of several cases of conscientious objectors.

Under South Korean law, all healthy young men must serve for two years. Refusal is punishable with up to three years in prison.

Since the 1950s, some 19,000 conscripts have been arrested and jailed, usually with a sentence of 18 months in prison.

On 28 June, the Constitutional Court ruled that the government has to amend existing legislation by the end of next year and give conscripts an alternative.

The Supreme Court will eventually make a full-bench decision. Whilst lower courts have cleared many conscientious objectors of their charges, the Supreme Court has always overturned the rulings and found them guilty.

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