Sewol committees clash in tiff over information

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Sewol committees clash in tiff over information


The Sewol Family Countermeasure Committee delivered an apology yesterday amid strong criticism from ruling Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung and a separate countermeasure committee over a statement it made Monday in a meeting at Korea University.

The Sewol Family Countermeasure Committee is made up of the parents who lost their teenage children in Korea’s worst maritime disaster, an accident that claimed the lives of more than 300 passengers, mostly 11th-grade students from Danwon High School.

The second countermeasure committee represents the relatives of the Sewol ferry victims who were not students.

On Monday, the family committee’s spokesman, Yu Gyeong-geun, accused the government and the ruling party of opposing the special Sewol law out of fear that it may spark an investigation on the Blue House.

The family committee has acted as a major force in negotiating the terms of the special Sewol law, designed to find the exact reason behind the April 16 tragedy.

It has also insisted that the bill grant investigative and indictment authority to a fact-finding panel to be established under the law. So far, the victim’s families have insisted that they be allowed to have a hand in choosing the members on the fact-finding panel.

“I heard that, in a meeting with the [second countermeasure committee], Chairman Kim insinuated that there was a reason why investigative and indictment authority could not be granted to a fact-finding panel [to be established under the law],” Yu said. “He wrote down ‘Blue House’ on a piece of paper and showed it to them. After that, the relatives of the committee soon determined that their stance [was in line with the Saenuri Party].”

The second countermeasure committee, however, was quick to defend itself after the allegations surfaced.

“How could that have happened when we didn’t meet Kim or have a discussion?” said the second committee’s Deputy Chairman Ji Seong-jin. “It’s just a groundless rumor.”

The second committee demanded that the family committee explain itself and said it did not rule out taking legal action if its request wasn’t accepted.

Kim, in the meantime, came up with an even stronger statement.

“I have never met the relatives of the non-student victims and did not make such a claim,” he said at a party meeting.

“I demand family committee spokesman Yu Gyeong-geun apologize today for spreading such a groundless rumor, or else I will take legal action,” he added.

In a briefing yesterday, Yu admitted that he had made a mistake.

“What I said about Kim was my mistake,” Yu said. “I explained it incorrectly. Kim insinuated to one of our own committee officials that it was the Blue House.”

BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]



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