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Police to again seek arrest warrant for ex-Yongsan police chief in Itaewon crush probe

National 14:03 December 07, 2022

By Kim Han-joo

SEOUL, Dec. 7 (Yonhap) -- Police said Wednesday they plan to again seek arrest warrants for two senior officers as part of their investigation into the bungled response to the deadly crowd crush in Seoul's Itaewon neighborhood.

Earlier, a court denied a special investigation team's request for the arrests of Lee Im-jae, former head of the Yongsan Police Station covering the Itaewon district, and Song Byung-joo, former emergency monitoring officer of the station.

The court cited the need to guarantee the suspects' right to defense.

The two have denied charges that they improperly responded to the incident that resulted in the deaths of 158 people, mostly aged in their 20s, on Oct. 29.

Lee has been booked on charges of professional negligence and manslaughter by negligence resulting in the deaths, police said. Lee is accused of arriving at the site late, some 50 minutes after the tragedy happened.

He is also accused of not taking enough crowd control measures after prior warnings of overcrowding during the Halloween celebrations, police said.

Song is accused of failing to promptly report the situation to Lee, they said.

The team said it will also look into allegations that the Yongsan Police Station fabricated an earlier situation report saying that Lee had arrived there right after the incident.

Lee Im-jae, who formerly headed Yongsan Police Station covering the Itaewon district, enters a special investigation team building in western Seoul as a suspect on Nov. 24, 2022, for questioning over the crowd crush in Itaewon. (Yonhap)

Lee Im-jae, who formerly headed Yongsan Police Station covering the Itaewon district, enters a special investigation team building in western Seoul as a suspect on Nov. 24, 2022, for questioning over the crowd crush in Itaewon. (Yonhap)

khj@yna.co.kr
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