|A passenger uses hand sanitizer before boarding a train at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. AP|
Prosecutors on Tuesday demanded a two-year prison term for a private academy instructor who lied about his job and whereabouts after testing positive for COVID-19.
The 24-year-old suspect tested positive on May 9 after visiting a club and an eatery that sells alcohol in the Seoul neighborhood of Itaewon.
During an epidemiological survey, he lied to health authorities and told them he was unemployed. He also did not disclose the fact that he had taught at a private academy in Michuhol Ward in Incheon, about 50 kilometers west of Seoul, only days earlier.
"The defendant visited a gym on the day of the epidemiological survey and later went to a coffee shop," the prosecution said in a statement during a hearing held at the Incheon District Court. "Due to the defendant's complacency, 80 other people tested positive for COVID-19, making the crime especially bad."
People whose infections were traced to the instructor included a taxi driver who drove him on May 4. Forty related infections were reported in Incheon alone, including many of his students.
The defendant broke down in tears as he spoke about his regret after lying and then trying to take his own life.
"I had no idea that something so serious could happen as a result of what I said," he said in court, bearing scars on his left arm. "After I saw that someone had written online that I should 'go and die,' I wanted to (take my own life)."
Judge Kim Yong-hwan urged the defendant not to blame himself too much, as time has passed.
The defendant's attorney said his client admits to all charges and has received treatment for depression. He asked that the judge allow for the fact that this was his first offense. (Yonhap)