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(LEAD) Nat'l Assembly approves parliamentary probe plan into Itaewon tragedy

All News 16:51 November 24, 2022

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES throughout with latest info)

SEOUL, Nov. 24 (Yonhap) -- The National Assembly approved a parliamentary investigation plan into the Itaewon crowd crush Thursday, kicking off a 45-day probe a day after the rival parties reached a compromise deal the previous day.

Earlier in the day, the 18-member special committee in charge of the probe drew up the plan to conduct hearing and other investigative activities into the deadly disaster that killed at least 158 Halloween partygoers in a crowd surge in Seoul's Itaewon district on the night of Oct. 29.

The investigation is set to last until Jan. 7.

Under the plan, government agencies subject to the investigation include the state affairs monitoring team of the presidential office, the national crisis management center, the prime minister's office, the interior and health ministries, as well as the Supreme Prosecutors Office, the police and the fire agency. Seoul city government and Yongsan Ward Office will also face investigation.

But due to disagreement on the scope of the investigation, the rival parties decided to only summon prosecution officials in charge of drug crimes, which has been pointed out as part of the reason police did not focus on crowd control on the day of the accident.

On Wednesday, the ruling People Power Party and the main opposition Democratic Party reached an agreement to investigate government agencies related to the case to see if they had bungled the response despite prior warning that safety accidents could happen in Itaewon, as massive crowds were expected to converge on the nightlife district for the first Halloween celebrations without outdoor mask mandates in three years.

The deal came after the PPP decided in a general meeting of party lawmakers to take part in the probe if the National Assembly first deals with the budget in a reversal of a previous position that it would agree to a parliamentary investigation only if the ongoing police investigation falls short.

The DP had pushed for an immediate investigation.

The ruling People Power Party floor leader Joo Ho-young (L) and the main opposition Democratic Party leader Park Hong-geun announce they have agreed to open a parliamentary probe into the Itaewon crowd crush in a press conference at the National Assembly in western Seoul on Nov. 23, 2022. (Yonhap)


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