Lawmakers agree on details of special Sewol law

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Lawmakers agree on details of special Sewol law

More than three months after the sinking of the Sewol ferry, the ruling and opposition parties finally agreed yesterday on the specifics of the special Sewol law. They will put it to a vote on Wednesday at the general meeting.

The agreement by the two sides came after weeks of wrangling over the details, particularly over who would comprise an established fact-finding committee and whether that committee should be given authority to investigate and indict suspects.

The delay in passing the special law has angered the relatives of the Sewol victims, who were mostly high school students, prompting some grieving parents to go on a hunger strike and camp in front of the Assembly.

Under the agreement, the fact-finding committee will consist of 17 members. The ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) will each recommend five committee members, while an association of victims’ relatives will choose three members. The Supreme Court Justice and the Korean Bar Association will each choose two members.

On the contentious issue of empowering a fact-finding committee to recommend a special prosecutorial team to investigate the April 16 disaster, the NPAD yielded to the Saenuri by agreeing to give up such authority. Instead, the committee will have access to the progress of the investigation conducted by the special prosecutors’ team and deliver its recommendations or demands to special prosecutors.

On holding parliamentary hearings for government officials suspected of neglecting their duties after the sinking, the two parties agreed to hold a three-day hearing from Aug. 18. Whether presidential Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon should be summoned for a hearing will be discussed by the two sides.

In light of the tragic death in April of a young Army conscript, the two parties agreed to set up a special committee devoted to improving human rights conditions in the military.


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