South Korean police search manslaughter fees over lethal Halloween crush

SEOUL, South Korea — Police in South Korea are searching for fees of involuntary manslaughter and negligence in opposition to 23 officers, together with regulation enforcement officers, for a scarcity of security measures they mentioned have been accountable for a crowd surge final yr that killed practically 160 individuals.

Regardless of anticipating a Halloween weekend crowd of greater than 100,000, Seoul police had assigned 137 officers to the capital’s nightlife district Itaewon on the day of the crush. These officers have been centered on monitoring narcotics use and violent crimes, which specialists say left few sources for pedestrian security.

Son Je-han, who headed the Nationwide Police Company’s particular investigation into the incident, mentioned Friday his crew will now ship the case to prosecutors. These beneficial for indictment embrace Park Hee-young, who’s mayor of Seoul’s Yongsan district, and the district’s former police chief Lee Im-jae — two of the six who’ve been arrested.

The outcomes of the 74-day police investigation introduced by Son principally confirmed what was already clear — that police and public officers in Yongsan did not make use of significant crowd management measures for the anticipated numbers of Halloween revelers and primarily ignored pedestrian calls positioned to police hotlines that warned of a swelling crowd hours earlier than the surge turned lethal on Oct. 29.

Officers additionally botched their response as soon as individuals started getting toppled over and crushed in a slim alley clogged with partygoers close to Hamilton Lodge round 10 p.m., failing to determine efficient management of the scene and permit rescue staff to succeed in the injured in time, Son mentioned.

“Inaccurate judgment of the state of affairs, the sluggish distribution of details about the state of affairs, poor cooperation between associated establishments and delays in rescue operations have been among the many overlapping failures that triggered the excessive variety of casualties,” Son mentioned at a information convention in Seoul.

It’s unclear whether or not the outcomes of the police investigation will likely be sufficient to calm the general public’s anger and calls for for presidency accountability because the nation nonetheless struggles to deal with its worst catastrophe in practically a decade.

Opposition lawmakers and a few kin of the victims have demanded investigations into extra high-profile figures, resembling Inside and Security Minister Lee Sang-min and Nationwide Police Company Commissioner Normal Yoon Hee-keun, who’ve confronted calls to resign.

Nevertheless, Son mentioned the particular investigation crew will shut its investigations of the Inside and Security Ministry, the Nationwide Police Company, and the Seoul Metropolitan Authorities, saying it was troublesome to determine their direct duty.

Some specialists have known as the crush in Itaewon a “artifical catastrophe” that would have been prevented with pretty easy steps, resembling using extra cops and public staff to watch bottleneck factors, imposing one-way stroll lanes and blocking slim pathways or quickly closing Itaewon’s subway station to stop massive numbers of individuals transferring in the identical route.