SEOULA special investigation team probing the military's proposal of a martial law declaration in the previous government said Wednesday it will suspend the probe until it locates the whereabouts of a ranking Army official, a key suspect in the case.

The joint probe team of prosecutors and military officials has been digging into allegations that the Defense Security Command (DSC), the military intelligence agency, had drawn up plans to impose a martial law in late 2016 to crack down on protests against then President Park Geun-hye.

The plans included effectively letting the military take control of the citizens in the event of protest rallies if the Constitutional Court denied the parliament's petition to oust Park from office.

The impeachment was upheld by the highest court in March 2017 and Park was arrested on multiple corruption charges in the same month.

Announcing the interim results Wednesday, the special panel said it is imperative that it has Lt. Gen. Cho Hyun-cheon, former DSC chief, in custody to proceed with the investigation.

"Since Cho remains at large after he left for the United States in December last year, probes against former President Park and then Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will be suspended, until we have Cho in our custody," an official from the probe team told a press briefing.

Park and Hwang face possible charges of conspiracy to commit mutiny.

The probe team said it has indicted three DSC commissioned officers without physical detention on charges of writing false public documents in order to conceal the martial law plans.

The special investigation team has been formed at a direct order from President Moon Jae-in in July to investigate the controversial martial law proposal from the DSC.

Source: Yonhap News Agency