Court issues arrest warrants for 2 senior police officers over Itaewon tragedy

SEOUL– Two senior district police officers were arrested Friday for failing to promptly respond to the deadly crowd crush in Seoul’s Itaewon neighborhood, which killed 158 people.

The Seoul Western District Court issued an arrest warrant for Lee Im-jae, former head of the Yongsan Police Station, on charges of professional negligence resulting in death or injury.

He is accused of not taking enough crowd control measures after prior warnings of overcrowding during the Halloween celebrations and arriving at the site nearly one hour after casualties occurred.

The court also approved the arrest of Song Byung-joo, former head of the police station’s 112 emergency hotline situation room, on the same charge.

On Dec. 5, the court granted the first arrest warrants in the case for Park Sung-min, former high-ranking intelligence officer at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, and Kim Jin-ho, former intelligence officer at the Yongsan Police Station.

At that time, the special police investigative team also sought arrest warrants for Lee and Song, but the request was rejected by the court.

In its second attempt, the probe team added a charge against Lee of fabricating an early warning report.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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