National Assembly passes bill for special counsel probe into Marine’s death

Posted on : 2024-07-05 16:57 KST Modified on : 2024-07-05 16:57 KST
The presidential office has strongly objected to the bill and threatened to veto it
Lawmakers with the ruling People Power Party object to National Assembly Speaker Woo Won-shik’s request that they terminate their filibuster on July 4, 2024. (Yonhap)
Lawmakers with the ruling People Power Party object to National Assembly Speaker Woo Won-shik’s request that they terminate their filibuster on July 4, 2024. (Yonhap)

A bill mandating a special counsel probe into an alleged government coverup of an investigation into a Marine’s death was railroaded through the National Assembly by the political opposition on Thursday despite pushback from the ruling party. The probe concerns a Marine surnamed Chae, who died during rescue work following severe flooding last year.

The bill for the special counsel probe returns to the desk of President Yoon Suk-yeol just 37 days after he vetoed it on May 28, in the National Assembly’s previous session.

The National Assembly passed the special counsel bill on Thursday afternoon with 189 votes in favor and 1 opposed, with just 190 of 300 lawmakers present. The bill was overwhelmingly supported by opposition parties: the Democratic Party (170 seats), the Rebuilding Korea Party (12 seats) and the Reform Party (3 seats). The only members of the ruling People Power Party (PPP) in attendance were Ahn Cheol-soo (who voted for the bill) and Kim Jae-sub (who voted against it).

The PPP had been filibustering the special counsel bill since Wednesday, but after 24 hours, National Assembly Speaker Woo Won-shik and the Democratic Party terminated the filibuster with a vote. Under the National Assembly Act, a motion to end a filibuster can be decided with a vote 24 hours after submission, and requires the support of three-fifths of all lawmakers. 

PPP lawmakers left the National Assembly in protest and also announced they would boycott the opening ceremony of the National Assembly’s 22nd session, scheduled for Friday. That led to the opening ceremony being postponed.

The special counsel bill seeks to get to the bottom of Chae’s death during flood rescue efforts on July 19, 2023, and to ascertain whether the presidential office or the Ministry of National Defense pressured the Marine Corps to sweep the incident under the rug.

The bill would authorize a team of about 100 investigators to look into the matter for 70 days, with an option for a single 30-day extension of their mandate.

Under the bill, the Democratic Party would nominate one person for special counsel, and other minor parties (including the Rebuilding Korea Party) would together nominate another person, with Yoon authorized to appoint one of the two nominees.

The presidential office has strongly objected to the bill and threatened to veto it once again.

“Once again, we have to deal with this special counsel bill that is not only unconstitutional but indeed anti-constitutional. We denounce this unprecedented and shameful attempt to trample on the constitution,” a senior official in the presidential office said.

“The Democratic Party is deliberately doing this to halt a constitutional government through impeachment. Yoon would be shooting himself in the foot if he didn’t veto this,” another official told the Hankyoreh.

A veto must be made within 15 days of the bill being transferred to the administration.

Incidentally, the North Gyeongsang provincial police intend to release the final results of their investigation into Chae’s death next week.

By Um Ji-won, staff reporter; Jang Na-rye, staff reporter; Kim Gyu-hyun, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories

Most viewed articles