SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Korea Bizwire) — A Jehovah’s Witness who was given a prison sentence at his first court trial for conscientiously objecting to military service was acquitted yesterday following an appeal.
A local court in Changwon found a 24-year-old man not guilty on appeal after he was sentences to 18 months in prison in the first ruling.
In yesterday’s court ruling, the judge stated that the defendant had not altogether refused to take on an alternative measure in lieu of the mandatory military service, merely refusing the alternative mode of service because of the military training that was involved.
The judge concluded that the defendant was likely to “carry out an alternative measure in place of military service even if the service period is longer than the duration of the conventional conscription.”
A separate ruling by the Constitutional Court in June found that the military service law that punished those who did not follow enlistment orders was indeed constitutional, while the same court said the article within the same legal framework that did not recognize alternative modes of military service was unconstitutional.
The 24-year-old was referred to the court for not responding to enlistment orders even after having been informed in writing in August of the upcoming conscription.
The defendant submitted a written statement to the military administration which said that he was “willing to take on alternative methods of military service if it did not involve military training and did not go against his conscience.”
In the first court ruling, the court decided that conscientious objection is not a justifiable reason for refusing military service, ordering the defendant to serve 18 months in prison.
However, yesterday’s ruling found the defendant not guilty of the previous charges, and he was acquitted from serving the prison sentence.
H. S. Seo (firstname.lastname@example.org)