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(LEAD) Opposition parties call for special prosecution to probe protester death

All News 17:05 October 05, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details)

SEOUL, Oct. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's three opposition parties on Wednesday submitted a proposal to the National Assembly to approve the formation of a special prosecution to investigate the death of a protester who was hit by a police water cannon during a protest last year.

Baek Nam-gi, who died last month at the age of 69 of acute renal failure, had been in a coma since a water cannon knocked him down during the massive anti-government demonstration in November last year.

The three parties agreed to launch a special prosecution, which can be approved by parliament through a majority vote.

The opposition parties said the proposal came as self-regulating investigations by police and prosecutors will not be sufficient to find the truth behind the incident.

The proposal, however, is anticipated to face a bumpy road ahead as the ruling Saenuri Party has objected to the move.

There is also a controversy over whether the proposal should be reviewed by the parliament's Legislation and Judiciary Committee, whose Saenuri chairman may not be inclined to cooperate with the plan.

Political pundits said the investigation will focus on whether the water cannon used against the protester violated any laws, along with the ongoing controversy over the cause of Baek's death.

If the proposal is passed, the parliamentary speaker will form a special committee to find candidates to head the investigation, with the president making the final appointment. The investigation can run for 60 days, and it can be extended once for 30 days more.

While the opposition bloc argued an excessive crackdown was the main cause of the death, the police countered that there is no clear link between the water cannon and Baek's death.

The ruling Saenuri Party also claims an autopsy should be considered to find out the cause, while opposition parties have been opposing the move, adding that the cause is already evident.


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