A South Korean court on Thursday in Seoul sentenced, Heather Cho, the daughter of Cho Yang-ho, Korean Air Lines’ Chairman to one year in prison.
The court also sentenced another executive to eight months in prison for trying to interfere in the government investigation.
Judge Oh Sung-woo said she was found guilty over an on-board incident in New York concerning the way she was served nuts in first class.
She ruled on Thursday that Cho, the airline’s former head of in-flight service, violated the law by ordering the plane to return to the gate after it started to taxi on Dec. 5.
Sung-woo said Cho had demanded the flight crew chief be expelled from the flight after she was served macadamia nuts in a bag, and not on a dish.
He said the South Korea-bound plane, which had started to move away from the gate, had to return.
“The so-called “nut rage” episode triggered scorn and outrage in a country whose economy is dominated by family-run conglomerates known as chaebol, and where many are fed up with the rich and powerful escaping punishment for bad behaviour,’’ he said.
This is a case where human dignity was trampled upon,” he added.
Sung-woo said, the court took into account that Cho was the mother of 20-month-old twins and had already suffered, but added that her conduct had seriously harmed the victims.
“Cho, 40, has been in custody since Dec. 30,’’ he said.
Suh Chang-hee, her lawyer, said,”It’s my understanding that she is repenting”.
He said he would discuss whether to appeal against the ruling.
Choi Jin-nyoung, Spokesman for the Korean Bar Association, said he had expected Cho to be sentenced to 1-1/2 to 2 years in prison.
He said this was because that was the minimum for aviation law violations.
Prosecutors had sought a three-year jail term if Cho was convicted of breaking aviation law and another charge for using her position to obstruct due process.
The court found her not guilty on the second charge.
It sentenced another executive to eight months in prison for trying to interfere in the government investigation.
Heather, the oldest of the three children of Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho, resigned after the incident.
Photo Credit: AP/NY Daily News