Seoul, Jun 9 (EFE).- South Korea’s defense minister publicly apologized on Wednesday over the recent suicide death of a female noncommissioned officer after being sexually harassed by a colleague, a case the armed forces allegedly tried to cover up.
“I am very sorry for causing deep concerns to the bereaved family and the people over the recent death of the sexual abuse victim. As defense minister, I feel heavy responsibility,” Suh Wook said during a parliamentary session.
“The ministry will thoroughly investigate every detail, including suspicions of appeasement and concealment,” the minister added, local news agency Yonhap reported.
Suh said that his ministry “will also review the sex crime handling system to come up with fundamental reform measures.”
The minister had earlier said that he was notified of the case on May 25, three days after the Air Force master sergeant took her life.
The female officer, whose only last name (Lee) has been released, committed suicide on May 22 in the city of Seosan (about 100 kilometers southwest of Seoul), after a colleague of the same rank groped and abused her in a car following a working dinner in March.
The case has sparked public outrage as, despite the sergeant’s complaint, the armed forces apparently did not launch an investigation into the matter and instead tried to convince her to reach a settlement with her assaulter in an attempt to cover up the case.
On Wednesday, defense ministry investigators raided the office of the Air Force prosecution in relation to the case.
The sergeant accused of having abused Lee is under arrest while her superiors, who allegedly trying to convince her to settle, have been relieved of their duties and are being interrogated.
One of them is also suspected of having sexually abused Lee prior to the March incident, according to Yonhap. EFE