S.Korea’s top interior official survives impeachment probe over fatal crush

S.Korea’s top interior official survives impeachment probe over fatal crush

Probing role of Lee Sang-min in fatal crush that killed 159 people, top court unanimously rules against removing minister

By Esra Tekin

ISTANBUL (AA) – South Korea’s Interior Minister Lee Sang-min Tuesday survived a motion to impeach him over a fatal crowd crush last year that killed 159 people.

The Constitutional Court unanimously dismissed the National Assembly's impeachment of Lee over the incident.

This decision promptly reinstated Lee as interior minister, Seoul-based Yonhap News reported.

Last October, 159 people, mostly of them young, were killed in the crowd crush that happened in the capital Seoul’s entertainment district during Halloween festivities.

It marked the country’s worst mass death since the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster that killed 304 people, most of them high school students.

The ruling came 167 days after the opposition Democratic Party-controlled parliament passed the impeachment motion.

The motion aimed to hold Lee accountable for the incident last fall.

Following the Feb. 8 impeachment, Lee's responsibilities were suspended, but now he has been immediately restored to his position as minister.

The court asserted that it is not possible to conclude that Lee neglected his constitutional obligations to protect the public or violated disaster and safety management laws

“The defendant's remarks, including those on the cause of the disaster, were inappropriate and enough to cause public misunderstanding ... (but) it is hard to conclude that they damaged the administrative function on disaster and safety management enough to warrant his dismissal," the court said.

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