An appellate court sentenced a notorious rapist-murderer to life imprisonment rather than the death penalty, but rejected his plea on a mental disorder.
The Busan High Court overruled a lower court’s decision to hand down 33-year-old Kim Gil-tae the death sentence, said court officials Wednesday.
The court, nevertheless, found Kim guilty of all charges, denying him his commutation plea. Medical experts earlier concluded that the criminal indeed was under the influence of a serious mental disorder.
“Despite the medical diagnosis, it is for the court to make its legal decision on whether or not to grant the accused a special commutation based on mental disorder,” said the court in its ruling.
The court, however, said that the death sentence should only be allowed under limited circumstances in which there may be no other options.
It also hinted that the previous lower court ruling may have been swayed to a certain extent by the overheated public rage over the brutal case, according to officials.
Despite the sentence commutation, prosecutors will not plead to the Supreme Court, considering that the death penalty has not been practiced here for decades, officials said.
Kim was arrested in Busan in March for raping and killing a 13-year-old school girl he kidnapped from her house.