Complaint Filed Against South Korean President and Officials for Alleged Interference in Marine Death Investigation

SEOUL - Two civic groups have filed a complaint against South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and four other senior security officials over suspicions that they influenced an investigation into the death of a Marine.

According to a new release by Yonhap News Agency, the complaint was filed by the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy and Minbyun. The groups accuse the officials, including National Security Adviser Cho Tae-yong, Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo, and former Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup, of abuse of authority.

The complaint centers on the Marine Corps' investigation into the death of Cpl. Chae Su-geun, who was swept away by an overflowing stream in Yecheon County in July. He was part of a mission to search for victims of heavy downpours at the time. The incident led to criticism that the Marine's commanders had proceeded with the risky operation without adequate safety measures.

Colonel Park Jung-hun, who led the Marine Corps investigation, initially found eight people responsible for negligent homicide, among other charges. These findings were reported to then Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup in late July. Lee initially approved the report but reversed his decision a day later, instructing Park to hold off for additional legal deliberations.

Park subsequently transferred the investigation records to civilian police, resulting in his dismissal and subsequent indictment on charges of insubordination and defamation of his superior.

Park later told the media that he felt pressured to downplay the charges against the division commander, and alleged that the former defense minister had questioned whether the commander should face punishment.

The civic groups argue that these actions by the officials amount to an obstruction of the investigation and an erosion of public trust in state functions. "An independent investigation and fact-finding are necessary for these people who obstructed the investigation into Chae's death," the civic activists stated.

The complaint also accuses President Yoon Suk Yeol of opposing any punishment against the division commander and calls for a review of the minutes of presidential meetings during that period.

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