In abuse case, four to be liable for neglecting duty

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In abuse case, four to be liable for neglecting duty

A group of high-ranking military officials will be punished for neglecting to report to their superiors details of the physical and sexual abuse inflicted upon a 23-year-old Army soldier that ultimately led to his death in April, the Ministry of National Defense said.

The ministry’s audit office yesterday released the outcome of an internal probe into the death of the young private, only identified by his surname Yun, who allegedly suffered systematic beatings and sexual humiliation at the hands of his comrades in the 28th Division before his death on April 6.

Four high-ranking military officials will be sent to a disciplinary committee to be questioned on why they did not appropriately report the violence to their superiors even after Yun died following a beating by his fellow soldiers in April.

The officials will be punished for dereliction of duty and include the chief of the Army’s human resources command, who is a major general; the head of the Army’s military police, a brigadier general; the head of the Army’s safety management center, a colonel; and the head of the safety situation center under the Defense Ministry, who is a major general.

A high-ranking official at the ministry in charge of human resources in the military will also be summoned by the disciplinary committee, the ministry said.

Auditors said that due to the high-ranking officials negligence, the defense minister at the time, Kim Kwan-jin, who is currently the chief of the National Security Office of the Blue House, and former Army Chief of Staff Kwon Oh-sung, who stepped down in the wake of the scandal, were both unaware of the details of the situation.

“After the accident [Yun’s death] occurred, there were detailed reports by low-level officials from the units below the 3rd Command,” Kim Jang-ho, an auditor at the Defense Ministry, told reporters yesterday. “However, in the Army’s headquarters and the Defense Ministry, his death and the ‘constant violence’ he suffered were reported, but the inhumane, abusive acts by fellow soldiers were not reported to the Army chief or defense minister at all.”

Yesterday, New Politics Alliance for Democracy Rep. Chang Ha-na cited a report given to him by the National Human Rights Commission that revealed additional testimony detailing the abuse Yun endured on the day of his death. The report quoted a fellow Army private in the 28th Division, who testified that he was witness to the final beating inflicted on the victim. “The abusers continuously stepped on Yun’s belly,” the private said. “It is a total lie that the bruises on his body were caused by the CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation].”

Previously, the military said the bruises on Yun’s body and his 14 broken ribs had resulted from the CPR he received at the hospital.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]




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