Seoul Assembly Approves Bill for Itaewon Tragedy Inquiry

Seoul: The National Assembly in Seoul passed a special bill on Tuesday, focusing on the formation of a committee to reexamine the Itaewon crowd crush incident of 2022.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the decision was made at a plenary meeting and targets establishing a special investigation committee. This committee's purpose is to identify those accountable for the incident that resulted in 159 fatalities on October 29, 2022, during Halloween celebrations in the Itaewon district. Additionally, the bill is structured to extend support to the victims and their families.

The Democratic Party (DP), holding 169 of the 298 seats in the Assembly, unilaterally endorsed the bill. The ruling People Power Party (PPP), however, abstained from voting as a form of protest. While both parties recognized the necessity of such a bill, they diverged on specific details.

The PPP contends that the bill is an attempt to generate adverse public opinion against the government preceding the April general elections. Meanwhile, the DP insists on passing the bill to provide better assistance to the victims.

The presidential office has expressed disappointment over the bill's unilateral passage, highlighting the lack of consensus between the ruling and opposition parties. The office announced plans to establish a stance on the matter after consulting with the ruling party and relevant government agencies. It remains unclear if a presidential veto will be used to reject the bill.

The new legislation, set to be effective from April 10, does not authorize the committee to seek a special counsel. It was passed in accordance with a compromise proposal by Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo.

The committee will comprise 11 members, with three nominated by the National Assembly Speaker in consultation with victims' families and their representative groups. The president will appoint the remaining eight members upon recommendations from the ruling and opposition parties.

This special probe committee is slated to operate for one year, with a potential six-month extension.

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