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PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — A South Korean man convicted of fostering violent resistance to the Camp Humphreys expansion project in Pyeongtaek has been sentenced to two years in prison, the South Korean daily JoonAng Ilbo reported Monday.

Kim Ji-tae’s sentence in Suwon District Court came after he was convicted of instigating violent protests on farmland near Camp Humphreys, according to the JoongAng Ilbo report.

Camp Humphreys is scheduled to triple in size in coming years and become the U.S. military’s main installation on the peninsula under a South Korea-U.S. agreement.

The court said Kim was personally responsible for violence that has marked opposition to the project, and that he had fostered defiance of public authority, the report said.

“Considering that Mr. Kim was a catalyst for a large-scale violent protest in which bamboo sticks and iron pipes were wielded, his crimes cannot be taken lightly,” the report quoted a judge as saying.

Starting in 2005, anti-U.S. protesters staged periodic and often violent demonstrations near the post. Some of those demonstrations involved fierce clashes between thousands of protesters and South Korean police, mainly in the rice fields of Daechu-ri, one of the villages that borders the installation.

The protesters said they do not want Camp Humphreys to enlarge its borders onto a 2,328-acre expanse of farmland near the installation that includes Daechu-ri. And they have called repeatedly for U.S. forces to leave South Korea.

But on May 4, South Korean security forces carried out a massive operation that ousted protest leaders from a school compound in Daechu-ri. And government forces converted the entire expanse into a restricted-access military zone manned round-the- clock by South Korean troops and police.

Since then, the violence has abated. Work is to begin early next year in laying landfill on part of the restricted land, a key early step in readying it for eventual construction.

The report quoted one activist, Choi Yeon-chul, as saying the sentence was out of proportion with those of similar cases. The activist accused the court of trying to inhibit future protests.

Hwang Hae-rym contributed to this report.


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