Seoul, Jan 13 (EFE).- South Korean police on Friday closed their investigation into the crush that claimed more than 150 lives during Halloween celebrations in Seoul, with 23 officials referred to the prosecutor’s office for possible indictment for negligence and other charges.
The special team of the National Police Agency said the deadly incident was caused by the inability of the authorities to adopt disaster prevention measures and promptly respond to the emergency situation.
The avalanche, which left 159 dead, was caused by the accumulation of hundreds of people in a narrow alley in the Itaewon neighborhood that leads to a pedestrian street full of bars next to a saturated subway exit. Most of the victims were women between 20 and 30.
Officials linked to the Interior Ministry or the Seoul Metropolitan Government have not been sent to the prosecutors, since the first investigations showed responsibility fell on local authorities, security forces and emergency teams.
The investigation, which lasted a month and a half, focused on personnel from the Yongsan City Hall, where Itaewon is located, as well as its police stations and fire stations, and also officials from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.
Among those referred to the prosecutor’s office for possible indictment and for whom an arrest warrant is already pending are the mayor of Yongsan Park Hee-young and former district police commissioner Lee Im-jae, both accused of professional negligence resulting in death.
Other city officials and a former member of the police accused of having deleted reports that warned of the potential danger of accidents during the Halloween festivities in Itaewon are also involved.
The head of the police Kim Kwang-ho and two other officers of this body in charge of monitoring emergencies at the time of the disaster, in addition to the head of Yongsan Fire Station, Choi Seong-beom were also referred to prosecutors.
The head of the Itaewon subway station is also being investigated for not ordering that convoys keep the walkway area clear, a measure adopted when there is a danger of crowds.
Prosecutors must now investigate these 23 people before deciding whether to send them to trial. EFE