Prosecutors on Monday sought the death penalty for four suspects behind the abduction and murder of a woman in downtown Seoul in March.
In the final hearing at Seoul Central District Court, prosecutors demanded the death penalty for Lee Kyeong-woo, known to be the mastermind of the crime, and Hwang Dae-han, for being an accessory in the act. They demanded life imprisonment for Yeon Ji-ho, another accomplice.
The prosecution also demanded the death penalty for a couple, identified as Yoo Sang-won and Hwang Eun-hee, for providing the money to use in the crime.
The three suspects -- Lee, Hwang and Yeon -- were indicted for kidnapping a 48-year-old woman near an apartment building in Gangnam Ward on March 29, killing her the following day and burying her body on a hill in Daejeon, about 140 kilometers south of Seoul.
Investigators believe Lee had premeditated the crime with Hwang, known to be his college friend, and Yeon, an employee at his delivery agency, in monitoring and following the victim.
The couple was reportedly in conflict with the victim over the failure of a cryptocurrency investment and handed 70 million won (US$51,600) to Lee in September last year following his proposal to take the victim's virtual assets and kill her.
"The cruelty of the murder by the robber that took place in the middle of Seoul's Gangnam district is beyond words," prosecutors said during the final hearing, while calling for a severe punishment corresponding to the crime to comfort the terror-stricken public and the bereaved families.
Lee and Hwang's lawyers denied allegations that the crime was premeditated.
South Korea last carried out executions in 1997, when 23 people were executed. The justice ministry said 59 people -- 55 civilians and four military personnel -- remained on death row in South Korea as of Monday.
Amnesty International, a nongovernmental organization focused on human rights, categorized South Korea as a death penalty abolitionist in practice in its annual report released in May.
Source: Yonhap News Agency