Politics

South Korea’s Yoon blocks new probe of 2022 Halloween crowd crush

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POLICE OFFICERS walk at the scene where many people died and were injured in a stampede during a Halloween festival in Seoul, South Korea, Oct. 30, 2022. — REUTERS

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol blocked on Tuesday a bill to launch a new probe into a Halloween crowd crush that killed 159 people in Seoul’s Itaewon district in 2022, in a move slammed by the opposition and relatives of the victims.

Yoon’s veto of a probe with an independent panel came after the prime minister described the opposition-backed bill as politicized and potentially in breach of the constitution.

“The pain from the disaster cannot be used as a tool to justify political strife and a possibility of unconstitutionality,” Prime Minister Han Duck-soo told a cabinet meeting, denying an earlier investigation by police and prosecutors was flawed.

The move to block the bill has been criticized by relatives of the victims and opposition party officials who have long argued the government’s handling of the disaster had been inadequate.

Park Young-soo, a mother who lost her son in the crowd crush, accused the government of being “petty” by blocking the inquiry and offering financial compensation instead.

“That’s not what we have been fighting for more than a year for,” Ms. Park told Reuters. — Reuters