Two Catholic priests received suspended prison terms Friday, along with two Catholic monks, for obstructing police executing their duties during protests against the construction of a naval base on Jeju Island.
Construction is underway to build the naval base in Gangjeong Village on the southern tip of the resort island to accommodate around 20 naval vessels, following a government decision in 2007.
The project, scheduled for completion by 2014, faces strong resistance from some local residents and civic groups, with less than 20 percent of the work being completed so far.
Father Moon Jeong-hyun (L) leaves court after being sentenced to an eight-month prison term, suspended for two years, on Feb. 24, 2012, on charges of obstructing justice while protesting against a naval base on Jeju Island last year. (Yonhap)
The Rev. Moon Jeong-hyun was sentenced to an eight-month prison term, suspended for two years, after being indicted on charges of obstruction of justice while protesting against the naval base last year.
The 72-year-old father climbed onto a police vehicle to keep officers from taking a village head to the police station and assaulted police three times in two months after he joined the anti-naval base movement in August, according to investigators.
"As the construction project was approved by the government, such violent ways of expressing opinion against it should be regarded as illegal," Judge Lee Yong-woo of the Jeju District Court said in his verdict. "He deserves a suspended term, however, as he did not commit the crime for his personal interest."
The court sentenced the second priest, identified only by his surname Lee, and two monks whose identities were withheld, to six-month prison terms, suspended for two years, on similar charges of obstruction.
Moon vowed to appeal the ruling.
"My action against the naval base is legitimate, as the project itself is illegal," he said. (Yonhap)