South Korea's top court upheld Thursday a lower court's suspended sentence for a daughter of the Korean Air Lines Co. chief for ordering her flight back to a gate in New York three years ago because she was upset about the way her nuts were served on the plane.
The Supreme Court's full-bench decision confirms the 10-month jail term with a two-year suspension on Cho Hyun-ah, the former vice president of the country's top air carrier and the eldest daughter of Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho.
Cho, 43, was indicted in January 2015 on charges of violating the aviation security law, coercion and abuse of power in what was dubbed "the nut rage" scandal in December 2014.
She was on an Incheon-bound flight departing from New York when she forced the plane back to the boarding gate as she was displeased that one of the flight attendants offered her complimentary nuts in an unopened bag instead of on a plate. She also told the purser, Park Chang-jin, to disembark from the plane.
The point of contention in Thursday's en banc session was how to define a flight route. The lowest court found her guilty as the land route was regarded as part of its course. But the appeals court judged that a flight route should only be applied to when the plane is up in the air. The top court agreed with the appeals court's ruling.
"We respect the court's ruling as it clarified that her act does not fall into the category of violating the aviation security law," Cho's lawyer was quoted as saying by the company.
Her actions sparked huge public scrutiny in Korea, leading to a series of complaints and lawsuits not only filed by Park, but other civic groups here accusing her of reigning over people just because she is an heiress apparent of her father's company. (Yonhap)