Seoul: A Chinese fisherman was jailed for 30 years Thursday for murdering a South Korean coastguard officer during an operation to stop illegal fishing, court authorities said.
Cheng Dawei, a 43-year-old fishing boat skipper, was also fined 20 million won (USD 17,500) by the court in the western port city of Incheon.
The skipper fatally stabbed one officer with a knife and seriously wounded another on December 12, after they boarded his boat inside South Korea`s exclusive economic zone in the Yellow Sea.
It was the second time a South Korean coastguard had died at the hands of Chinese fishermen in less than four years and the incident sparked widespread public anger.
Seoul urged Beijing to take stronger action against illegal fishing and lawmakers sought tougher punishment of violators.
Prosecutors had demanded the death penalty for Cheng.
"One coastguard member was killed and another was seriously wounded, causing great shock and distress not only to their relatives but the Korean people as a whole," the court said in its judgement.
"Stern punishment is inevitable in order to prevent any recurrence."
The judges said Cheng regretted his actions and had compensated the victim`s relatives "but he must take heavy responsibility for killing an officer and seriously injuring another".
Nine other Chinese crew members were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 18 months to five years for obstructing the coastguard raid, in addition to fines of between 10 to 20 million won.
China did not explicitly oppose the verdict but said it did not agree that the boat was in South Korea`s exclusive economic zone at the time of the killing.
"The two countries have not demarcated the exclusive economic zones in the Yellow Sea," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said.