Top court orders retrial of child rapist case

SEOUL, Aug. 14 (Yonhap) -- A man who received a life sentence for raping an eight-year-old girl in a southern city faces a retrial, as the top court on Wednesday remanded the case back to an appellate court due to its incorrect application of a now-defunct law provision.

The 24-year-old man, surnamed Koh, was sentenced to life imprisonment by lower courts for abducting the sleeping first-grader from her home, brutally raping her and then attempting to kill her in August of last year in Naju, 350 kilometers south of Seoul.

He was also ordered to undergo chemical castration over a five-year period, which entails receiving hormonal treatments designed to suppress sexual impulses. Koh was also ordered to wear an electronic monitoring anklet for 30 years and have his personal information be made available to the public for 10 years in the event he is released from prison on parole.

Reversing the ruling, however, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the Gwangju High Court for retrial, saying one of the abduction charges filed against him was based on a law provision that existed when the original ruling was made but was later removed.

"The appeals court upheld the lower court ruling, applying a law provision that was already removed," Justice Kim So-yeong said.

Despite the order of a retrial, chances are scant that Koh may receive a lighter sentence in the future since he was charged on multiple counts of child sexual assault, according to court officials.

The high-profile case sent shock waves across the country, raising alarm bells for women and children who could be vulnerable to violent sexual assaults, and prompting then President Lee Myung-bak to offer a public apology.

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