Two former Seoul police officers arrested for crushing deadly Halloween

Two former police officers were arrested in South Korea on Monday, accused of destroying evidence related to a deadly Halloween crowd jostling in Seoul, according to the country’s authorities.

The arrests of former intelligence officers Park Sung-min of the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Kim Jin-ho of the Yongsan Police are the first in the ongoing investigation into the disaster that killed 158 people in October. .

They allegedly ordered their subordinates to destroy an internal report about risks stemming from a large crowd gathered in Itaewon during the Halloween festival.

These two officers were dismissed in November for their handling of the Itaewon incident. Under the terms of the arrest warrant for the couple issued by a Seoul court on Monday, prosecutors now have 10 days to file charges.

Most of those killed in the October 29 jostling were young adults and teenagers, who were among the tens of thousands of partygoers who flocked to Seoul’s Itaewon district to celebrate Halloween. Many people were stranded as the narrow streets became congested, with survivors and witnesses saying there was little police presence or crowd control until it was too late.

On Monday, the court also rejected the arrest warrants for former Yongsan policeman Lee Im-jae – who was a station chief – and former emergency surveillance officer Song Byung-joo. Both are being suspected of professional negligence related to the crowd jostling that resulted in death and injury.

In dismissing the arrest warrant, the court held that the chances of Lee and Song destroying evidence or running away were very low. They are still under investigation.

After the disaster, a special police unit was set up to investigate what happened – with officers raiding police stations and offices across the capital, collecting reports and documents. Internal police data on emergency calls.

According to that call log, at least 11 emergency calls – increasingly urgent – were made to police, crowd control requests, then to the emergency services. The first calls came as early as four hours before the tragedy happened.

Since then, both local and national governments have faced growing public anger and demands to be held accountable, with some calling for President Yoon Suk Yeol’s removal for the tragedy. this.

“I earnestly plead with the politicians of this country. If you are serious about the pain of bereavement, you need to be honest. You need to conduct a proper investigation and apologize to our children. “, the 29-year-old mother of one said. The one-year-old victim said at a news conference on Nov. 22. Holding her son’s death certificate, she said the exact cause, time and place of his death were still unknown.

Other bereaved parents at the press conference, represented by the nonprofit Minbyun, described their own difficulties in the process; One father said it took him 17 days to connect with other bereaved families, arguing that the government was not providing adequate support.

Asked about those claims, an official from the president’s office said a thorough investigation “should be conducted” and the government is considering providing more compensation and comfort “if the scope legal responsibility and perpetrators clarified.”

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