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Interior ministry, Seoul City not to be held accountable for Itaewon tragedy: police

All News 09:38 January 04, 2023

By Kim Han-joo

SEOUL, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) -- Police looking into the Itaewon crowd crush have decided not to press charges against officials of the interior ministry and the Seoul city government after determining that the responsibility lies with local authorities, rather than the central or the metropolitan government, officials said Wednesday.

A special investigation team has judged that police, fire authorities and the ward government of Yongsan covering the Itaewon district have "concrete" responsibility over the bungled response to the deadly tragedy that killed 159 people, mostly those in 20s, on Oct. 29.

Under the Management Of Disasters And Safety, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety and the Seoul metropolitan government do not have concrete responsibility to make a plan for disaster response that is limited to the Itaewon district, the team said.

"It is judged that preparation for and response to the disaster should be carried out by the local government after reviewing the overall provisions and purpose of the Management Of Disasters And Safety," said an official of the team who asked to not be named.

Interior Minister Lee Sang-min, who is in charge of commanding and overseeing the police, is not expected to be charged despite mounting criticism that he should directly carry out disaster responses and prevent disaster situations. Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon is also expected not to be held accountable for the tragedy.

In accordance, the team is expected to wrap up its monthslong probe by referring heads of Yongsan Police Station, Yongsan Fire Station and Yongsan Ward Office to the prosecution for the indictment.



Interior Minister Lee Sang-min (L) and Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon (Yonhap)

Interior Minister Lee Sang-min (L) and Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon (Yonhap)


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