New probe of South Korea’s deadly Halloween stampede blocked by ‘cold-blooded’ Yoon Suk-yeol
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 office announced his veto of conducting an investigation with an independent panel hours after the prime minister described the opposition-backed bill as politicised 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 probe by police and prosecutors was flawed.
Families of victims in Seoul stampede still waiting for answers 1 year after Halloween tragedy
The move to block the bill has been criticised 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,” Park told Reuters.
Song Hae-jin, another mother of a victim, said families who have been trying to get justice for their children would have a “very tough time” accepting the government’s position.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee said last year that South Korea should establish an independent and impartial body to investigate the disaster and ensure those responsible are brought to justice, including top officials.
Song Doo-hwan, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, South Korea’s top human rights