SEOUL – South Korea’s Constitutional Courtroom on Tuesday overturned the impeachment of the general public security minister ousted over a Halloween crowd surge that killed almost 160 individuals final October at a nightlife district within the capital, Seoul.

The court docket’s choice permits Lee Sang-min to return because the minister of the inside and security. Vice Minister Han Chang-seob has served as appearing minister since February when South Korea’s opposition-controlled parliament voted to question Lee, saying he ought to be held answerable for the federal government’s failure to make use of efficient crowd management measures and its botched emergency response, which contributed to the excessive dying toll in Itaewon.

Lee, 58, is seen as a key ally of conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol, whose workplace welcomed the choice and had accused the opposition liberals of making “shameful history” by pushing for his impeachment.

In rejecting the parliamentary impeachment of Lee, the court docket mentioned he couldn’t be held mainly answerable for the gang crush, which it mentioned mirrored broader failures throughout totally different authorities organizations to “develop a combined ability to respond to large-scale disasters.”

There’s not sufficient proof to show that Lee failed to hold out his authorized and constitutional duties as a authorities official to guard the protection and lives of residents, the court docket mentioned.

Lee was the primary Cupboard minister impeached by the Nationwide Meeting, which beforehand impeached conservative President Park Geun-hye in 2016. The Constitutional Courtroom formally eliminated Park from workplace in March 2017 by upholding lawmakers’ choice to question her. She was imprisoned for corruption earlier than her liberal successor, Moon Jae-in, pardoned her in December 2021.

Following a 74-day investigation into the gang crush in January, a particular investigation staff led by the Nationwide Police Company concluded that police and municipal officers in Seoul’s Yongsan district did not plan out efficient crowd management measures regardless of accurately anticipating large crowds of Halloween revelers in Itaewon.

Police additionally ignored hotline calls positioned by pedestrians who warned of swelling crowds earlier than the surge turned lethal on Oct. 28. Officers additionally botched their response earlier than individuals started getting toppled over and crushed in a slim alley close to Hamilton Lodge and failed to determine management of the scene and permit paramedics to succeed in the injured in time, in response to the investigation.

Police have pursued felony costs, together with involuntary manslaughter and negligence, in opposition to 23 officers — about half of them legislation enforcement officers — over the shortage of crowd controls and security measures in Itaewon.

However critics, together with opposition politicians and households of the victims, have claimed that police investigators went mushy on the upper members of Yoon’s authorities, together with Lee and Nationwide Coverage Company Commissioner Common Yoon Hee-keun, who had confronted calls to resign.

Regardless of anticipating a crowd of greater than 100,000, Seoul police had assigned 137 officers to Itaewon on the day of the crush. Some specialists have referred to as the crush in Itaewon a “manmade disaster” that would have been prevented with pretty easy steps, equivalent to using extra police and public employees to watch bottleneck factors, imposing one-way stroll lanes and blocking slim pathways.

Lee confronted large criticism shortly after the gang crush after he insisted that having extra police and emergency personnel on the bottom nonetheless wouldn’t have prevented the tragedy in Itaewon, in what was seen as an try and sidestep questions in regards to the lack of preventive measures.

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