Marine chief refuses to confront subordinate in probe over conscript’s death

Marine Corps Commandant Lt. Gen. Kim Kye-hwan arrives at the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province, May 21. Yonhap

Investigators attempted to have the Marine Corps chief and a former chief Marine investigator confront each other during questioning over the military’s handling of a conscript’s on-duty death last year, but the commander refused, officials said Wednesday.The previous day, the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO) brought in Marine Corps Commandant Lt. Gen. Kim Kye-hwan and Col. Park Jung-hun, former chief investigator of the Marines, for questioning over the case.The high-profile investigation centers on allegations that the presidential office and the defense ministry inappropriately interfered in Park’s investigation into the death of Cpl. Chae Su-geun, who was killed during a risky search mission for victims of heavy downpours in the central county of Yecheon in July last year.According to Park, who led the initial inquiry into the death, he brought charges of professional negligence resulting in death against eight military leaders and reported the findings to the defense minister.

A press briefing planned on the inquiry was then abruptly called off by the chief Marine commander, followed by a call from a legal affairs officer from the ministry, ordering the removal of all suspects and charges from the report. Park has accused the commander of involvement in alleged interference with the inquiry by the presidential office and the defense ministry, claiming that the commander told him “the VIP (the president) went into fury” and that he had a phone call with the defense minister. The Marine commander is flatly denying these allegationsDuring Tuesday’s questioning, the CIO attempted to have Kim and Park face each other for a cross-examination regarding their contradicting claims, but Kim’s side refused.The CIO quoted Kim’s side as responding, “Having the chief Marine commander confront a subordinate to argue over right and wrong would inflict grave wounds to the Marine Corps and could possibly disrupt its ability to carry out its missions.”As the Marine commander left the CIO office in Gwacheon, south of Seoul, at around 11:30 p.m., following 14 hours of questioning, he remained tight-lipped in the face of a barrage of questions from reporters.It was the second round of questioning he has faced in connection with the investigation, following 스포츠토토존 the first one in early May.

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