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Defense minister vows stern measures against intelligence unit's wrongdoings

All Headlines 15:51 July 10, 2018

SEOUL, July 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo assured the public Tuesday that an envisioned team of military prosecutors will look independently into alleged wrongdoings by the Defense Security Command (DSC), an influential unit tasked with collecting security-related intelligence and investigating anti-state activities.

The DSC reportedly considered ways to invoke a set of drastic decrees to control domestic security conditions last year, when then President Park Geun-hye was impeached.

Lawmakers voted to impeach her, bowing to weeks of massive protests highlighted by candlelight vigils, and the Constitutional Court upheld the National Assembly's decision.

The DSC is accused of having mapped out plans to curb street rallies expected to intensify in case the impeachment was rejected by the court.

The measures under consideration included the enactment of a garrison decree and a martial law to mobilize troops to maintain "social order."

It was also found to have inspected the families of people who died in the Sewol ferry sinking in 2014. Authorities' handling of the disaster caused public uproar at the time.

Related internal documents were leaked recently, containing details that were shocking to South Koreans proud of the rapid democratization and peaceful power transitions in their country. Their non-violent candlelight vigils against the Park government were internationally recognized.

Amid growing criticism of the DSC, President Moon Jae-in ordered a full probe into the allegations by an independent team of investigators.

He instructed the military to form a task force composed of military prosecutors with no Army or DSC background.

South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo in a file photo (Yonhap)

Hours later, the defense chief issued a statement expressing regret over the DSC scandal.

"In consideration of the gravity and seriousness of the case, the Ministry of National Defense plans to carry out the probe rigidly and fairly by creating an independent special investigation team separate from the (existing) military prosecution," Song said.

He said the head of the team will be appointed at the earliest possible date.

The minister pledged that he won't receive any report from the team until its probe has been completed, in order to guarantee its autonomy and that it will function without any outside pressure.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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