The military began an extensive investigation Monday into last month's problem-ridden search for a fugitive Army sergeant who went on a deadly shooting spree, military sources here said.
Criticism has mounted over the military's massive manhunt to capture the sergeant, surnamed Lim, who fled on June 21 after killing five of his comrades and wounding seven others at his eastern border post in Goseong, some 250 kilometers east of Seoul.
Two days later, Lim, 22, was captured some 9 kilometers away from his barracks after making a botched suicide attempt while under siege.
"The defense ministry's combat readiness inspection team launched a four-day probe today into the 22nd Army Division and those involved to investigate any flaws apparent over the course of the operations," an Army officer said, requesting anonymity.
The task force for the investigation is comprised of some 40 officers, including military police, personnel and security officers, he added.
During their search, thousands of troops ran into the fugitive soldier three times but failed to apprehend him, the military admitted. Lim told military police that he came across the troops six times.
Also, a platoon leader sustained a gunshot wound to his arm after being hit by friendly fire during the manhunt. Initially, the military announced the first lieutenant had been shot during a gunfight with Lim.
"After learning exactly what happened during the operations, we will find problems in the commanding structure, and hold those responsible for loopholes," a defense ministry official said.
After undergoing surgery for his self-inflicted gunshot wound, Lim has been recovering and was formally arrested last month, with the prosecution looking into his motives. He had been scheduled to be discharged in September.
With an internal probe under way, the Army investigation team on Sunday asked military prosecutors to issue an arrest warrant for an Army 1st Lt, who took charge of the barracks, to bring him to account for loose oversight, according to an Army official.
He faces charges including disobeying the division commander's order to stay in his unit following the shooting spree and lax supervision of firearms, leaving Lim free to shoot his comrades with his K-2 rifle. (Yonhap)