S. Korea President Moon Jae-in orders probe into military's proposal for crackdown on candlelit rallies

South Korean President Moon Jae-in's order came after it was revealed that the Defence Security Command had considered declaring martial law and cracking down on candlelit rallies by mobilising armed soldiers and tanks.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in's order came after it was revealed that the Defence Security Command had considered declaring martial law and cracking down on candlelit rallies by mobilising armed soldiers and tanks.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (XINHUA) - South Korean President Moon Jae-in has ordered an independent investigation into the military intelligence unit for its alleged proposal for armed crackdown on peaceful candlelight rallies that led to the ouster of former president Park Geun-hye, the presidential Blue House said on Tuesday (July 10).

The order was made on Monday by President Moon, who is currently on his four-day state visit to India, his spokesman Kim Eui-keum told a press briefing in Seoul.

Mr Moon was slated to leave for Singapore on Wednesday before returning home on Friday.

His order came after a lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party disclosed military documents last week showing that the Defence Security Command had considered declaring martial law and cracking down on candlelit rallies by mobilising armed soldiers and tanks.

The peaceful candlelit protests, which had begun in late 2016, led to the impeachment of Ms Park who has been in jail and faced criminal trial over corruption and abuse of power.

Mr Moon also ordered the independent investigation team to look into allegations that the Defence Security Command inspected the civilian families of the Sewol ferry victims.

On April 16, 2014, the passenger ferry Sewol capsized and sank in waters off the country's southwest coast, killing more than 300 passengers, mostly high school students on their way to the southern resort island of Jeju for a class trip.

The independent investigation team, composed of military prosecutors having no affiliation with the Army and the Defence Security Command, would not be subject to direction from any military officials, including the defence minister.

The Blue House spokesman said there was a possibility for a wide range of former and incumbent defence ministry officials to have been involved in it, adding that the existing investigation team's probe has not made any progress.