Mongolian chief justice referred to prosecution for probe over alleged groping

INCHEON-- South Korean police on Friday referred a sexual assault case involving the chairman of Mongolia's Constitutional Court to the prosecution recommending indictment.

The justice, Dorj Odbayar, is alleged to have touched the buttocks of a South Korean female flight attendant and intimidated a Mongolian crew member on a Korean Air flight from Ulaanbaatar to Incheon, west of Seoul, on Oct. 31.

Legal experts said the prosecution is most likely to ask the court to summarily fine the suspect, given the degree of seriousness of his alleged crime and that he is a foreigner.

"In the case of a simple indecent act by compulsion that is not so serious in nature, most of them are sentenced to fines," a judiciary expert said.

"The prosecution is expected to seek summary procedures to fine Chairman Dorj Odbayar between 1 million won (US$864) and 5 million won," he said.

Odbayar, who returned to South Korea on Wednesday, has been prohibited from leaving the country until Nov. 15.

The prosecution could lift the travel ban if it seeks summary procedures and if he deposits money equivalent to an estimated fine with the court, as was the case with a Hungarian swimmer who was charged with sexual harassment in July.

The chairman has been charged with indecent act by compulsion and violation of the aviation security act, which could result in punishment of up to 10 years in prison or up to 10 million won in fine, and 10 million won or less in fine, respectively.

Odbayar and an official accompanying him who is also suspected of sexually abusing a flight attendant were apprehended by Korean Air staff on the plane and turned over to airport police on Oct 31.

Odbayar initially denied all charges when questioned by airport police the following day. Immediately after the probe, he headed to his destination of Bali, Indonesia, to attend a meeting of Asian constitutional court chiefs.

He returned to Korea Wednesday and underwent a second questioning, during which he appeared to back down. He told investigators that he did not remember what happened because he was drunk at the time of the incident, according to Incheon Metropolitan Police Agency.

He also admitted to making threatening remarks to the Mongolian staff, but only after police showed him video footage of the scene, police said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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