Ruling party says not time for parliamentary probe into Itaewon tragedy

SEOUL– The floor leader of the ruling People Power Party (PPP) said Friday it is not time to conduct a parliamentary probe into the deadly Itaewon crowd crush, saying an ongoing police investigation should be the priority.

The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) has called for a parliamentary probe into the tragedy that killed at least 156 people, saying it makes no sense for police to investigate themselves over allegations they failed to respond properly to the disaster.

The minor progressive Justice Party also took part in the demand Friday.

DP floor leader Park Hong-geun said the DP will submit a request for a parliamentary probe with the Justice Party and independent lawmakers next week even with the ruling party’s opposition.

But Rep. Joo Ho-young, floor leader of the PPP, rejected the demand for an immediate parliamentary probe.

“The most important thing at the moment is swiftly conducting a compulsory investigation to secure and preserve evidence,” Joo said, noting that a parliamentary probe is not compulsory and will hamper the ongoing investigation by politicizing the event.

Joo said the PPP will not reject a parliamentary probe if the results of the current investigation turn out to be insufficient or inadequate, vowing to do anything to uncover the truth of the Itaewon disaster that claimed the lives of at least 156 people, mostly in their 20s.

The government has come under fire following revelations that police did little to prevent the crush even though a total of 11 emergency calls alerting them to overcrowding in Itaewon were made hours before the accident.

Further revelations showed that the national police chief learned of the accident nearly two hours after it happened, and an hour and 13 minutes after President Yoon Suk-yeol was informed of the accident.

The National Police Agency referred the head of the Yongsan Police Station in charge of Itaewon as well as a situation monitoring officer at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency to a special investigation team for alleged negligence of duty.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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