Disasters & Accidents

Probe calls to arrest police officers over South Korea crush

Seoul, Dec 1 (EFE).- The team investigating the crush that killed more than 150 during Halloween celebrations in the Itaewon neighborhood of Seoul requested the first arrest warrants for senior police officials for their alleged negligence in preventing and responding to the tragedy.

The team established by the National Police Agency requested warrants Thursday to arrest Yongsan District Commissioner Lee Im-jae, Park Sung-min, a superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Police, Kim Jin-ho, an intelligence officer from the Yongsan Police Station, and Song Byung-joo an emergency follow-up officer from Yongsan.

All of them had already been removed from their positions since the special investigation team established after the tragedy began to investigate their role before and after the crush.

Police believe Lee is suspected of negligence for arriving 50 minutes after the deadly avalanche took place and failing to take crowd control measures despite earlier warnings about crowding in Itaewon, a neighborhood where thousands of people flock each year to celebrate Halloween.

In turn, it is believed Park, the highest-ranking official being investigated for the tragedy, ordered the elimination of an internal intelligence report that warned of the possibility of an accident in a neighborhood where the number of people celebrating Halloween increased every year.

Kim is accused of following Park’s order and having his subordinates remove the report, while Song, in charge of emergencies in Yongsan on the day of the incident, is credited with failing to immediately report the situation to Lee.

The accumulation of hundreds of people during the Halloween celebrations in a narrow alley in Itaewon caused a crush on the night of Oct. 29 that left 158 ​​dead, most of them women aged 20 to 30, and 30 seriously injured.

Both the Yongsan district council, its fire and police departments, as well as the Seoul Metropolitan Police are under investigation following the tragedy.

Meanwhile, the central government, which admitted the absence of protocols in the country to increase resources in terms of security in events that lack an organizer, promised to present a proposal this month to reform the law that regulates emergency and response systems police. EFE


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