Korean officer at centre of Halloween crush probe found dead at home

The man, identified by the surname Jeong, was being investigated after the crush that killed 156 people

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A South Korean police official being investigated over the deadly Halloween crush was found dead at his home in Seoul on Friday, Yonhap news agency reported.

The October 29 crush killed 156 and injured 198, mostly in their 20s and 30s, when revellers flooded narrow alleyways in the popular nightlife district of Itaewon to celebrate the first mask-free Halloween festivities in three years, since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The official, who was only identified by his surname Jeong, was in charge of intelligence affairs at the Yongsan Police Station covering Itaewon. He was found dead at his Seoul home by a family member at about 12:45pm, Yonhap said, citing unnamed police officials.

Telephone calls by Reuters to the Yongsan station were unanswered.

Jeong, 55, faced accusations that he had deleted intelligence reports warning of a serious accident after an investigation began into police responses to the crush.

Legislators slammed the suspected removal of the documents at a parliamentary session on Monday, and urged the arrest and punishment of those in charge.

National Police Commissioner General Yoon Hee-keun told them that the intelligence chief at the Yongsan station had ordered the records to be deleted and would be investigated.

The police have faced bitter criticism from the public and scrutiny over their handling of the tragedy, especially after the release of transcripts of emergency calls which showed that many people raised the alarm over the imminent danger and had asked for help hours before the crush occurred.

Updated: November 11, 2022, 6:04 PM
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