PPP, gov’t to push for creation of life imprisonment without parole amid series of stabbing rampages

The government and the ruling People Power Party (PPP) decided Friday to push for the creation of a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, a day after a stabbing rampage left 14 people wounded.

Rep. Park Dae-chul, the PPP's chief policymaker, said the decision was made at a policy coordination meeting between the two sides convened to discuss measures to strengthen punishment for violent crimes and acts of terrorism against strangers.

On Thursday, a man drove a car onto a pedestrian walkway and went on a stabbing rampage in a department store in Bundang, just south of Seoul, wounding 14 people. About two weeks earlier, a 33-year-old man fatally stabbed a complete stranger near Sillim Station in Seoul and then attacked three other men in a nearby alleyway.

"We discussed creating a life sentence without parole to tackle crimes becoming brutal day by day. After the Sillim case ... people's fear and anxiety are growing every day. What's more important than the offender's basic rights is people's daily lives," Park wrote in a Facebook post.

Under South Korea's criminal law, offenders sentenced to life imprisonment -- which puts the convicted person behind bars for the rest of their life -- could be on parole after 20 years in prison.

This is why judges hand down the death penalty as the maximum punishment alternative to life imprisonment, since offenders sentenced to death can never be released from prison. South Korea has effectively abolished the death penalty as there have been no executions since 1997.

Due to such legal issues, the two sides plan to hold discussions with experts on the issue, as well as gather public opinions before making efforts to change the country's criminal law, Park said.

Additionally, the government and the PPP discussed way to strengthen public security, Park said.

The two sides agreed to have police on constant alert in areas with heavy foot traffic, and requested the government for a population analysis to decide where to station police forces.

The party also requested the government thoroughly hunt down people writing threats online to commit copycat crimes and take legal measures if necessary, the PPP's floor leader Rep. Yun Jae-ok said after a party meeting.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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