Seoul police chief accused of Halloween crush

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A woman prays as she reads condolence messages taped to the wall of a narrow alley in Itaewon where the deadly Halloween smash that killed more than 150 people occurred in October, in Seoul, South Korea, on December 18 2022. REUTERS/Kim Hong- Ji/F

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean prosecutors have charged the head of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, accusing him of contributing through negligence to the Halloween crowd in Seoul in 2022 that killed nearly 160 people, according to the Police Bureau. Seoul Western District Prosecutors. .

The indictment against Seoul Police Chief Kim Kwang-ho came more than a year after the October 2022 crowd crush that killed 159 people on a Halloween weekend in the Seoul entertainment district. Itaewon, in the capital, Seoul. Kim is the highest-ranking police officer charged in connection with the crowd gathering.

The annual festivities in the popular Itaewon nightlife area turned deadly on October 29 after tens of thousands of young revelers crowded into narrow alleys to celebrate the first Halloween free of COVID restrictions in three years.

Authorities, including police, failed to devise safety measures even though large crowds made an accident likely, and failed to take appropriate measures after rescue calls began coming in, according to the investigation team.

In January last year, a special investigation team referred Kim and 22 other police, rescue and district office officials to prosecutors on charges related to the government's inadequate response to the stampede.