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2010/02/25 14:24 KST
Constitutional Court rules in favor of capital punishment

SEOUL, Feb. 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Constitutional Court ruled in favor of the death penalty for the second time Thursday, upholding its ruling 14 years earlier.

   The Constitutional Court's 5-4 decision came after it ruled capital punishment constitutional in a 7-2 verdict in 1996, saying society needs to change more before the death penalty can be abolished.

The court said in its ruling that "the death penalty is a legal punishment that can deter crime for the sake of the public."

   There has been an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty since February 1998 when President Kim Dae-jung -- who was sentenced to death himself in 1980 but later pardoned -- took office.

   In 2007, Amnesty International categorized South Korea as having "virtually abolished capital punishment," as it has not carried out the punishment since the last execution of 23 death-row convicts in 1997.
A total of 920 people have been executed in the country since capital punishment was legalized in 1948. There are still 58 inmates on death row.