The man who attacked Mark Lippert, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, back in March has been sentenced to 12 years in prison, a Seoul Central District Court ruled this week.
Kim Ki-jong had been charged with slashing Lippert with a knife on March 5 at a breakfast event in Seoul, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported
. Lippert required more than 80 stitches from doctors after the bloody attack left him with deep gashes on his face and arm.
Prosecutors say that Kim assaulted Lippert after a North Korea claim that the annual South Korea-United States joint military exercise was preparation to attack the country, according to Yonhap. The news agency said Kim had books and other documents supporting North Korea's plans to communize South Korea.
"Kim seems to have had a strong will to attack the victim, choosing a knife to repeatedly slash the part of the body that had a direct connection with life," Judge Kim Dong-ah said, according to the news agency.
"While some of the defendant's arguments coincide with that of the North, such as opposing the military exercises, they are ideas that have been often claimed by the academic circles and civic groups in the country," the judge stated in connection with his ruling.
The judge added that he believes the incident was premeditated and rejected Kim Ki-jong's claim that his slashing of Lippert was accidental, the Korean Times reported
"The depth of the 11-centimeter cut was as deep as three centimeters, which narrowly missed the artery in the neck," Judge Kim Dong-ah said.
"Kim claimed that he merely had attempted to threaten Lippert, and had not swung the knife with full force. But, slashing a knife towards a person in the direction of the face and neck in no way can be taken lightly," he continued.
The event Lippert attended the day of the attack was put together by the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, which pushes for the peaceful reunification of North and South Korea, CNN reported.
"We continue to appreciate the strong support of the Korean people and the Korean government following the attack on Ambassador Lippert in March," embassy spokesman Daniel Turnbull, said, according to CNN. "This support demonstrates the deep friendship between our peoples."
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