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Priest wants custodial sentence

Suspended term as court convicts Churchmen over Jeju naval base protests

Police dragging Father Mun Jung-hyun down from a police car.
Police dragging Father Mun Jung-hyun down from a police car.
  • ucanews.com staff, Seoul
  • Korea
  • February 24, 2012
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A Catholic priest arrested for protesting against the construction of a controversial naval base says he wants to go to jail after being refused a prison term by a court in Jeju province today.

Several priests, including Father Bartholomew Mun Jung-hyun were found guilty of obstructing police in the execution of their duties near the construction site of the base on Jeju island.

Father Mun was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for two years by the Jeju District Court.

Jesuit Frs John Lee Young-chan and Brother John Park Do-hyun, as well as Fr Peter Lee Kang-suh of Seoul archdiocese, were handed six months in jail, also suspended for two years.

Another eight priests were fined 100,000 won (about US$89) for minor offenses.

Retired Father Mun of Jeonju diocese was arrested on August 25, last year on charge of interfering with the duties of a public official.

He had tried to prevent three other men, protesting against the construction of the military base on Jeju island, from being arrested.

Fr Mun said he was disappointed he had not been sentenced to do prison time.

“I appealed against the sentence as soon as I received it. I wanted the court to send me to prison, and for more than eight months,” he said.

It would have helped our cause against the naval base if I had gone to jail, he added.

In June 2007, the navy and the Jeju provincial government designated Gangjeong village as the site for the new naval base

Protesters say the base will harm the environment and increase regional tensions.

The base is intended to become home to a new fleet of destroyers that will patrol the East China Sea between China and Japan.

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