.... "LiMA has been informed by Pureum Law Office, the Korean law firm hired by the Government to represent Messrs Moses Owen Browne and Daniel Tarr in their sexual assault case, that at the scheduled Verdict Hearing, the Court in Busan, Korea, has found both men guilty of Sexual Assault."
A court in Busan, South Korea, has sentenced two employees of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) to nine years in prison each for sexual assault.
The officials, Moses Owen Browne, Liberia's Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in the UK, and Daniel Tarr, Director of the Department of Marine Environmental Protection at LiMA, had been detained in South Korea since last year for allegedly raping two Korean teenagers, according to Busan police.
But after nearly eight months of trial, the judge overseeing the case, according to a government release, found both Browne and Tarr guilty of sexual assault and sentenced them to prison terms of nine years each.
"LiMA has been informed by Pureum Law Office, the Korean law firm hired by the Government to represent Messrs Moses Owen Browne and Daniel Tarr in their sexual assault case, that at the scheduled Verdict Hearing, the Court in Busan, Korea, has found both men guilty of Sexual Assault."
"The Government has instructed its legal representation in Korea to furnish it with the various appeal options available to a criminal defendant under Korean laws," the release said. "Notwithstanding, it has been established that any appeal from such a verdict has to be exercised no later than seven days following the rendition of the judgment. LiMA shall provide further information to the public once a decision is made regarding the issue of appeal."
The sexual assault charges against Browne and Tarr have resulted in a lesser sentence than the earlier police charge of statutory rape, which, according to South Korean law, occurs when an individual engages in consensual sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 20 in Korean age. In South Korea, the legal age of consent is 20 years old, meaning that individuals aged 19 or younger are not considered capable of legally consenting to sexual activity. Thus, engaging in sexual activity with someone under the age of 20 may result in prosecution for statutory rape or the equivalent local law.
Meanwhile, the government in its release has also announced that it has notified the families of Browne and Tarr regarding the court's decision in this matter.
The government also expressed its intention to assist in facilitating the visit of at least one family member for each defendant to Busan, Korea, to ensure that contact between Browne, Tarr, and their respective families is maintained in the aftermath of the sentence.
"The Government shall continue to remain engaged with the Republic of Korea through official diplomatic channels to explore many options which may be available to Browne and Tarr," the release added.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with some background information.