DP accuses PPP of hampering parliamentary probe into Itaewon tragedy to protect interior minister

SEOUL– The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) slammed the ruling People Power Party on Monday after PPP lawmakers threatened to quit en masse a special committee in charge of a parliamentary probe into the Itaewon crowd crush.

All PPP members of the parliamentary investigation committee into the tragedy offered to leave the committee in protest Sunday, shortly after the DP-led National Assembly passed a motion calling for the dismissal of Interior Minister Lee Sang-min.

The PPP has strongly opposed the dismissal motion, arguing it makes no sense to hold the minister responsible for the tragedy even before the parliamentary investigation determines who is responsible for the disaster that killed 158 people.

“The PPP members of the parliamentary investigation committee displayed the height of irresponsibility by saying they would quit the committee as soon as the National Assembly passed the motion calling for Minister Lee’s dismissal,” the DP floor leader, Rep. Park Hong-geun, said, noting it is “embarrassing” to see the ruling party trying hard to protect the minister who went to the same schools as President Yoon Suk-yeol.

Park urged the PPP to return to the special committee.

“Stepping down as a parliamentary probe committee member is a clear act of breaking a promise to the people and an attempt to incapacitate the probe from the start,” Park said.

Park also warned Yoon will face public fury if he does not fire Lee, citing a media report that stated the presidential office said it is “worthless” to respond to the passage of the dismissal motion.

The PPP floor leader Rep. Joo Ho-young said the PPP will decide whether to boycott the parliamentary probe in reflection of the DP’s handling of the government budget proposal for next year.

Parliament missed the legal deadline to pass the national budget plan earlier this month amid a standoff between the rival parties.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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