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Investigation team studying whether interior minister is responsible for Itaewon crowd crush

SEOUL– A special investigation team is looking into whether Interior Minister Lee Sang-min is legally accountable for the bungled response to the deadly Itaewon crowd crush, officials said Wednesday.

“Through questioning of interior ministry employees, we are looking into whether there are legal duties (requiring Lee) to directly command (a disaster response),” an official at the investigation team said.

The remarks came as the investigation team recently questioned several officials from the Ministry of the Interior and Safety as testifiers as part of its review on whether Lee is legally accountable for the Oct. 29 deadly accident.

The focus of the review has been on whether Minister Lee, in charge of commanding and overseeing the police, is legally bound to directly carry out disaster responses and prevent disaster situations.

If Lee is determined to be directly responsible for disaster prevention or response in the review, he could be charged with dereliction of duties or professional negligence resulting in death, legal sources said.

“A total of seven people have been booked and put under investigation as suspects so far, but there’s a possibility that the number of suspects could grow further,” Kim Dong-wook, a spokesman of the investigation team, said.

“All proceedings necessary for an investigation will be conducted,” suggesting further police raids into relevant government offices.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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