Two Seoul police officers convicted over deadly Halloween crush


Seoul:A South Korean court Two former senior police officers were sentenced on Wednesday for destroying evidence linked to Seoul's deadly 2022 halloween crush -The first police officer to be punished over the disaster.
Thousands of people – mostly in their 20s and 30s – went out on October 29, 2022, to enjoy the first post-pandemic holiday celebrations in the popular capital. Itaewon Nightlife District,
But that night turned deadly when people crammed into a narrow, sloping alleyway between bars and clubs, their body weight and the lack of effective crowd control, crushed about 160 people to death.
Two former police officers were jailed for ordering the deletion of four internal police reports after the disaster, which had already identified safety concerns over potential overcrowding in the area.
The Seoul Western District Court sentenced Park Sung-min, a former senior intelligence officer of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, to 1.5 years in prison and Kim Jin-ho, a former intelligence officer of the Yongsan Police Station, to one year in prison. Suspended for three years.
The court said, “The defendants should have actively cooperated with the investigation by preserving existing data, but instead, they deleted or arbitrarily destroyed internal reports written before the accident and destroyed evidence. “
The court said that “harsh sentences” were inevitable because they “made it difficult to adequately determine the truth by minimizing and obscuring the responsibility of the police.”
Park and Kim are the first police officers to be convicted of the Itaewon disaster.
In January, Kim Kwang-ho, the head of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, was accused of professional negligence.
District-level officials have been prosecuted over the disaster, but despite criticism from victims' families over a lack of accountability, no high-ranking members of the government have resigned or faced prosecution.
South Korea's rapid transformation from a war-torn country to Asia's fourth-largest economy and global cultural superpower is a source of national pride.
But a series of preventable disasters – such as the 2022 accident and the 2014 sinking of the Sewol ferry, which killed 304 people – have shaken public confidence in authorities.

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