South Korean police said Friday that it referred 23 government officials to the prosecution on professional negligence and other charges after wrapping up a 74-day investigation into the deadly crowd crush that occurred in late October at the Itaewon district of Seoul during Halloween celebrations.
The special police investigation team concluded that relevant authorities failed to take preventive measures against possible incidents that could have been predicted ahead of the scheduled event.
The 501-strong team said the authorities took no appropriate measures even after receiving emergency calls alerting danger and urgency at the scene, adding that negligence by the authorities was to blame for numerous casualties.
A total of 159 people, many of them women in their 20s, had been killed from the crowd crush on Oct. 29 when a dense crowd thronged a narrow sloping alley in Itaewon and fell over one another.
Over 100,000 people gathered in the popular nightlife district for the country's biggest no-mask outdoor Halloween festivities since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Four policemen, including a police station chief in Yongsan that administers Itaewon, and two Yongsan Ward Office officials, including the ward office head, were referred to the prosecutors' office with detention on charges of professional negligence resulting in death and so on.
Those referred to the prosecution without detention on similar charges were 17 people, including officials with the police station, the ward office, and the fire station in Yongsan.
The special investigation team decided not to hold any officials from the interior ministry, the Seoul city government and the national police agency criminally liable for the man-made disaster.