Home Latest News Seoul arrests ex-top safety official over border killing

Seoul arrests ex-top safety official over border killing



SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s former nationwide safety director was arrested Saturday over a suspected cover-up surrounding North Korea’s killing of a South Korean fisheries official close to the rivals’ sea boundary in 2020.

Suh Hoon’s arrest early Saturday got here as President Yoon Suk Yeol’s conservative authorities investigates his liberal predecessor’s dealing with of that killing and one other border incident the identical 12 months, instances that prompted criticism Seoul was desperately attempting to appease the North to enhance relations.

Former President Moon Jae-in, who staked his single-term on inter-Korean rapprochement earlier than leaving workplace in Could, has reacted angrily to the investigation into Suh’s actions. Moon issued an announcement this week accusing Yoon’s authorities of elevating groundless allegations and politicizing delicate safety issues.

Decide Kim Jeong-min of the Seoul Central District Court docket granted prosecutor’s request to arrest Suh over issues that he could try to destroy proof, the courtroom mentioned in an announcement. Suh didn’t reply reporters’ questions in regards to the allegations on Friday as he appeared on the courtroom for a evaluate over the prosecution’s warrant request.

A earlier inquiry by South Korea’s Board of Audit and Inspection concluded that officers from Moon’s authorities made no significant try to rescue Lee Dae-jun after studying that the 47-year-old fisheries official was drifting in waters close to the Koreas’ western sea boundary in September 2020.

After confirming that Lee had been fatally shot by North Korean troops, officers publicly performed up the likelihood that he had tried to defect to North Korea, citing his playing money owed and household points, whereas withholding proof suggesting he had no such intention, the audit board mentioned in an October report.

Suh additionally served as Moon’s spy chief earlier than being appointed as nationwide safety director two months earlier than the killing. He faces suspicions that he used a Cupboard assembly to instruct officers to delete intelligence data associated to the incident whereas the federal government crafted a public rationalization of Lee’s loss of life.

Suh can also be suspected of ordering the Protection Ministry, Nationwide Intelligence Service, and the Coast Guard to painting Lee as attempting to defect of their experiences on his killing.

Critics say the Moon authorities went out of its approach to paint Lee as unsympathetic because it tried to appease a nuclear-armed rival with a brutal human rights report.

In June, the Protection Ministry and coast guard reversed the Moon authorities’s description of the incident, saying there was no proof that Lee had tried to defect.

Yoon’s authorities is individually investigating the 2019 pressured repatriation of two North Korean fishermen, regardless of their reported want to resettle in South Korea.

In July, the Nationwide Intelligence Service filed expenses towards Suh and his spy chief successor Park Jie-won for alleged abuse of energy, destruction of public data and falsification of paperwork relating to the 2 instances.

The company accused Park, who served as its director till Could, of ordering the destruction of intelligence experiences on Lee’s loss of life. It accused Suh of forcibly closing an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the 2019 repatriation of the 2 North Korean fisherman captured in South Korean waters.

Critics say Moon’s authorities by no means supplied a transparent rationalization of why it despatched the 2 escapees again to the North to face potential execution. Moon’s officers described the boys as criminals who confessed to homicide and questioned the sincerity of their want to defect.

Dozens of worldwide organizations, together with Human Rights Watch, issued a joint assertion accusing Moon’s authorities of failing to offer due course of or to “defend anybody who can be at substantial threat of torture or different critical human rights violations after repatriation.”

Moon left workplace with little to indicate for his engagement efforts with the North and the investigations into the 2 incidents have additional tarnished his legacy.

Moon met North Korean chief Kim Jong Un 3 times in 2018 and lobbied laborious to arrange Kim’s conferences with former U.S. President Donald Trump as a part of efforts to defuse the nuclear standoff and enhance inter-Korean ties.

However the diplomacy by no means recovered from the failure of the second Kim-Trump assembly in 2019 in Vietnam. Talks collapsed when the edges couldn’t agree on exchanging an finish to crippling U.S.-led sanctions towards North Korea for steps by the North to wind down its nuclear weapons and missile packages.

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