S. Korea prosecutors seek 20 years for American in new trial

AP News
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Posted: Jan 15, 2016 9:58 PM

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean prosecutors have asked for a 20-year prison term for an American charged with fatally stabbing a South Korean university student at a Seoul Burger King restaurant in 1997.

Prosecutors made the request Friday at the end of the new trial of Arthur Patterson from California, according to spokesman Joon Young Maeng at the Seoul Central District Court. Maeng said that the court verdict was set for Jan. 29.

Patterson, 36, was extradited to Seoul in September, 16 years after he fled to the U.S.

The stabbing death of 22-year-old student Cho Choong-pil has been one of the most publicized and debated murder cases in South Korea and has even inspired a local movie.

Patterson's American friend, Edward Lee, who was with him at the time of the killing, was initially sentenced to life in prison for the murder but was later acquitted due to a lack of evidence.

Patterson had received an 18-month term for destroying evidences and possessing a dangerous weapon. He was later freed in a special amnesty and fled while authorities launched a new investigation, according to South Korea's Justice Ministry.

In 2011, prosecutors charged Patterson with murder, citing fresh evidence. Patterson was in South Korea during time his father was a civilian working for the U.S. military.

About 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea to deter against possible aggression from North Korea. Crimes involving U.S. troops are a long-running source of anti-American sentiments among South Koreans.