The Seoul High Court Thursday will hold the final round of hearings for the second trial of a Chinese fisherman who allegedly stabbed a South Korean law enforcement officer to death during a "crackdown on illegal fishing" last year.
Cheng Dawei, 43, skipper of a Chinese fishing boat Luwen-
yu, was sentenced to 30 years in jail for killing Lee Cheong-ho, a South Korean coast guard, with a knife and seriously injuring another officer when they boarded his boat during a raid on December 12. He was also fined 20 million won ($17,572).
After the sentence was delivered, both the prosecutor and the defense decided to appeal to a higher court, where two rounds of hearings were held in June and July.
Hu Xianpang, Cheng's attorney, left for South Korea on Tuesday. During an interview with China National Radio (CNR), Hu said that there are still questions over whether the South Korean side could sentence the Chinese captain under its exclusive economic zone law.
Liu Wenzong, a retired professor with the Institute of International Law at China Foreign Affairs University, echoed Hu's arguments.
"If China and South Korea have demarcated the exclusive economic zone on the sea, and the Chinese fishing boat entered the South Korean side, South Korea could use its law to punish the captain. However, this is not the case," Liu Wenzong told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Hu also noted that the alleged weapon used in the killing was only 12 centimeters long, but the cut in the dead coast guard was 17 centimeters deep, CNR reported.
Hu estimated that it would take another two weeks for the high court to give a verdict. "It is hard to predict the result," he told CNR, adding that they would appeal again if they were not satisfied with the result.
Liu Wenzong said that China's foreign ministry should have a role in verifying the evidence provided by the South Korean side, and urged Seoul to properly handle the case in a rational and just manner.
The two countries have not yet demarcated a boundary for exclusive economic zones in the Yellow Sea, therefore the rulings based on the exclusive economic zone law were unacceptable, Liu Weimin, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said after the first sentence in April.
China and South Korea have overlapping claims for their exclusive economic zones that extend outward to a distance of about 370 kilometers from their respective baselines.