South Korean 'nut rage' executive remains free after court upholds suspended sentence

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SEOUL (Reuters) – A former Korean Air Lines executive who went into a rage on an aircraft over the way she was served nuts in first class avoided jail on Thursday when South Korea’s Supreme Court upheld her 10-month suspended sentence.

Heather Cho had been charged with, among others, violation of aviation law in 2015 after she took issue with the way she was served nuts and forced the Korean Air Lines plane to return to its gate in a New York airport in December 2014.

The incident became a national scandal in South Korea, as Cho is the daughter of the chairman of Hanjin Group, the conglomerate of which Korean Air is an affiliate.

Cho stepped down from her role as Korean Air Lines vice president and attempted to apologise to crew members.

The Supreme Court upheld an appeals court ruling that said forcing an on-the-ground plane to return to its gate cannot be seen as “route deviation,” but found Cho guilty of abusive language and actions against cabin crew and forcing a crew member to disembark.

Cho was originally sentenced to one year in jail, but has been free from custody since May 2015, when the appeals court suspended her sentence.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Michael Perry)

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