SEOUL, Oct. 30 (Korea Bizwire) — Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon instructed the justice ministry Tuesday to look into the criminal code to see if it’s right to reduce the punishment for crimes committed when the perpetrators are mentally ill.
The Article 10 of the Criminal Act states that the act of a person who, because of a mental disorder, is unable to make discriminations or to control one’s will, shall not be punished. It also says the punishment shall be mitigated in case the perpetrator is deficient in such abilities because of a mental disorder.
The code has been under public criticism as courts have issued relatively light sentences in brutal crimes, citing mental disorders of the criminals. Critics have claimed that perpetrators may take advantage of the clause to get light sentences.
Criticism flared anew recently after a part-time worker at an Internet cafe, known as a PC room, was brutally stabbed dozens of times in the face and the neck to death by a disgruntled customer, and speculation has arisen that the murderer could claim a mental disorder.
“A part-time worker lost his life at a PC room recently,” Prime Minister Lee said during a Cabinet meeting. “Many people are saying that police bungled the initial response and that punishment shouldn’t be mitigated for a mental disorder.”
Lee ordered police to look into whether the initial response was appropriate.
“The justice ministry should review whether the current Criminal Act, which calls for mitigating punishment in case of mental disorders, regardless of the seriousness of crimes, is not causing an obstacle to realizing judicial justice,” he said.
Lee also instructed the prosecution to determine mental disorders in a more strict manner.