Prosecutors’ office in Seoul raided for evidence of tampering with footage of 2014 ‘Sewol’ ferry disaster

Investigators from a special counsel team, which is looking into a possible government cover-up of one of South Korea’s deadliest maritime disasters, have raided a prosecutors office in connection with possible evidence-tampering.

The Supreme Prosecutors Office (SPO) in Seoul was searched on Monday by people working for Special Prosecutor Lee Hyun-joo, who was appointed in April to lead a fact-finding mission into the ‘Sewol’ ferry disaster. They were interested in the server of the SPO’s digital evidence management system, which was used to process the evidence collected during the initial investigation of the 2014 tragedy, news agency Yonhap reported.

The sinking of MV ‘Sewol’ in April 2014 was one of the deadliest and most controversial disasters in South Korean maritime history. It claimed the lives of more than 300 people, most of them high school students and teachers, who were riding the ferry for a field trip. Just 172 people survived the incident, with a slow and botched rescue effort believed to have contributed to the death toll.

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It was a major blow to then-president Park Geun-hye. She was harshly criticized for prioritizing her administration’s public image over rescuing the victims and addressing the flaws in the oversight of the maritime transport industry that led to the disaster. There is a lingering suspicion in South Korea that the government went further than that and conducted an active cover-up to avoid liability.

In 2019, a parliamentary commission announced that the South Korean Navy may have secured CCTV footage from the sunken ship earlier than they told the public. The footage, which the military sent to the SPO, may have been altered, the commission said. It alleged that roughly one hour of the footage which should have been recovered was never sent to prosecutors.

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The Monday raid was reportedly intended to investigate the footage of the navy’s recovery of the ‘Sewol’ CCTV recorder. The commission suspected that the scene was staged to cover up the alleged evidence fraud.

The special counsel was appointed by President Moon Jae-in, who was elected after President Park’s impeachment and removal from office for abuse of power in 2017. The ‘Sewol’ disaster was not directly linked to the impeachment, but it significantly affected Park’s popularity and fanned public anger over other scandals involving her.

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Source:RT World News

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