South Korea parliament approves new inquiry into deadly 2022 crowd crush

By Hyunsu Yim, Reuters

South Korea’s National Assembly has voted to approve a bill backed by the ruling and opposition parties to launch a fresh probe into the deadly Halloween crowd crush in the capital Seoul in 2022.

An earlier bill, which was backed by the opposition-led parliament without the support of the ruling People Power Party (PPP), was vetoed by President Yoon Suk-yeol in January.

The latest bill is a compromise that removes granting full investigative power to the panel, which Yoon had objected to, according to his office.

Under the bill, a committee made up of members recommended by two major parties and a chairperson chosen by them through consultations will look into the tragedy.

The passage of the bill comes after Yoon met opposition leader Lee Jae-myung of the Democratic Party for talks on Monday following the PPP’s crushing general election defeat last month.

It also comes amid growing pressure on authorities, including from relatives of the victims, to hold those responsible to account.

A spokesperson for Yoon on Wednesday welcomed the agreement reached between the ruling and opposition parties on the bill as indicating a return to cooperation in politics.

The Halloween crowd crush in Seoul’s Itaewon district in 2022 killed nearly 160 people, and relatives of the victims as well as the United Nations Human Rights Committee have since called for an independent inquiry.

A police investigation published early last year concluded that a lack of preparation and an inadequate response were the main factors behind the deadly crush.

In January, South Korean prosecutors indicted the former head of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, charging him with contributing through negligence to the crush.

No senior government figures, including the interior and safety minister, have resigned or been sacked so far over the crush.

– Reuters

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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