Probe team launched to verify allegations surrounding key military unit

SEOUL, July 13 (Yonhap) -- A military investigation team was launched Friday to look into a set of alleged misdeeds by a key defense unit that have further eroded public trust in the country's armed services.

The team will look into the allegations that the Defense Security Command (DSC) drew up a document on the possible imposition of martial law last year to quash public protests if they escalated into social unrest after a court ruling on the fate of then corruption-tainted President Park Geun-hye.

It will also investigate the suspicion that the command spied on the families of the victims of the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster that laid bare the former conservative government's ineptitude in crisis management.

Air Force Col. Jeon Ik-soo leads the team consisting of some 30 members, including 15 military prosecutors. The team will begin its one-month probe on Monday.

"In accordance with the law and principles, we will conduct a fair and thorough investigation," the team said in a statement.

Amid rising public criticism of the embattled command, President Moon Jae-in issued an order Tuesday to form the independent probe team that excluded the Army personnel or anyone with ties to the DSC.

The investigation is expected to focus on who instructed the DSC to write the controversial document and whether it really had an intention to enforce the procedures to quell the protests by mobilizing military assets in the name of public security.

The case has drawn the ire of the public, as critics say that use of the military to handle public rallies runs counter to democratic principles, and that it could mark another case of political interference by the military.

Some even called the DSC document part of preparations for a military rebellion, while conservatives argue that the military is entitled to craft measures to prepare for any scenario that could compromise national security.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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