(3rd LD) Yoon again vetoes bill on special counsel probe into Marine’s death

President Yoon Suk Yeol again vetoed a bill mandating a special counsel investigation into the military’s response to a Marine’s death, his office said Tuesday, the second time he did so in less than two months.

Yoon exercised his veto powers from Hawaii, where he is on an official visit, by electronically endorsing a motion demanding the National Assembly reconsider the bill. The motion was approved by the Cabinet earlier Tuesday.

The bill calls for the appointment of a special counsel to look into allegations the presidential office and the defense ministry inappropriately interfered in the military’s investigation into the death of Cpl. Chae Su-geun, who was killed during a search mission for victims of heavy downpours in July 2023.

The presidential office said the bill should now be retracted, given that the results of a police investigation into the case “uncovered the actual truth and who was responsible.”

In announcing the findings Monday, police said six military field commanders were referred to
the prosecution on charges of professional negligence resulting in death. Police did not, however, charge the Marine division commander at the center of the interference allegations.

“There should also be no more political exploitation of the regrettable death of a Marine, who was killed while carrying out his duties upon being called by the nation,” the presidential office said in a statement.

The legislation will now be sent back to the National Assembly, marking an escalation of a monthslong standoff between rival parties over the contentious bill, as an earlier version was passed by the opposition-controlled Assembly in May but vetoed by Yoon and then ultimately scrapped.

“The main reasons (the bill was vetoed) were that even though a special counsel should be introduced to supplement and as an exception on the premise of agreement between the rival parties or the government’s acceptance, it was unilaterally railroaded by the opposition party, and in terms of its content, did not meet the principle of
the separation of powers and failed to guarantee political neutrality,” Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said at a Cabinet meeting before the motion was approved.

“Therefore, if the National Assembly were to push again for this bill, a process of fixing and supplementing the concerns raised is necessary through consultations between the rival parties,” he continued. “However, the opposition party once again unilaterally railroaded a bill that in fact further increased its unconstitutionality.”

The latest version was introduced by the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) following the inauguration of the new National Assembly in late May, this time with added provisions allowing the special counsel to investigate other cases related to the Marine’s death and expanding the opposition party’s rights to recommend a special counsel.

The DP railroaded it through a plenary session last week despite fierce protest from the ruling People Power Party, which has argued for the need to first see the results of separate in
vestigations by the police and the Corruption Investigation Office for High-Ranking Officials.

Source: Yonhap News Agency