Seoul’s High Court on Friday suspended the sentence handed down by a lower court to the former vice president of Korean Air Lines Co Ltd, who was charged in the infamous “nut rage” case. Cho Hyun-ah, also known as Heather Cho, had disrupted the flight from New York to Seoul and assaulted the crew over the way she was served macadamia nuts.
The high court upheld her conviction and ruled that she was guilty of violating aviation laws. However, it reduced her sentence to 10 months from the one-year jail term given to her in February by the lower court. It also suspended the jail term for two years, the Wall Street Journal reported. The prosecutors now have a week to decide if they want to appeal against the latest ruling.
“She has shown remorse for the wrongdoing she committed. She must have learned a lesson from it. We judge she should have a chance to start her life anew,” Seoul High Court Judge Kim Sang-whan, said Friday, according to the Journal.
Cho, who has been in custody since Dec. 30, was released on a two-year probation on Friday after the court's decision.
A spokesman for the ruling, also said, according to Bloomberg, that Cho had “done enough reflection and needs a new chance after changing her disposition.”
On Dec. 5, 2014, Cho, the daughter of Korean Air Lines' Chairman Cho Yang-ho, had forced the flight to return to its gate at the JFK International Airport in order to expel the flight's crew chief, after she was served nuts in a bag, and not on a plate. She had assaulted the crew member who served her the nuts, the Journal reported, citing the lower court. The plane landed 11 minutes late at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport.
Kim Do Hee, the flight attendant who was assaulted, had filed a lawsuit in March -- the first civil lawsuit in the case -- against Cho and the airline in the Supreme Court of the State of New York County of Queens. Kim had demanded compensation for being attacked physically and verbally by Cho. Her lawyer, Andrew J. Weinstein, had reportedly said at the time that Kim was pressured to lie to the regulators to cover up the incident.
The incident had led to huge public outcry against family-run conglomerates, tipped to have heavy influence and power, Bloomberg reported.