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(LEAD) Police to summon first owner of BMW vehicle that caught fire

All Headlines 18:49 August 12, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with minor edits)

SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) -- The owner of a BMW vehicle that caught fire will be summoned by police on Monday to give formal testimony as South Korean law enforcement try to determine if the German luxury brand tried to hide a serious safety defect, sources said Sunday.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said it has asked a plaintiff that had filed charges against BMW to give testimony and to submit any other documents the person possess that are related to the fire.

"The person being summoned can represent others that have taken joint action against the carmaker," an officer said. He added that law enforcement authorities will work closely with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and other related agencies to get to the bottom of the matter.

Since the start of the year, a total of 36 BMW cars have caught fire in South Korea, with the last reported incident taking place in Incheon, west of Seoul, on Saturday and involving a 120d model runabout. No one has been hurt in the vehicle fires.

Last week, BMW claimed that the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) in its diesel cars was the root cause of the fire incidents. The German carmaker said it will voluntarily recall more than 100,000 passenger cars to fix the faulty EGR part, although such measures are seen here as being too little, too late.

In addition to the person who will answer questions raised by the police, a total of 21 filed a petition with the police on Thursday asking for criminal investigation to be conducted on the matter.

They have argued that the carmaker tried to hide a serious defect that BMW had known about since 2016 when similar incidents started occurring in Europe.

Related to the incident, the transport ministry said it is carrying out its own probe to determine if BMW intentionally put off the vehicle recall decision, which that could be in violation of local rules.

A burned BMW sedan on the side of a road in South Korea (Yonhap)
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