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Cabinet passes motion requesting parliamentary reconsideration of special probe bill over Marine's death

By Yonhap

Published : May 21, 2024 - 10:41

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Prime Minister Han Duck-soo (4th from Left) presides over a Cabinet meeting at the government complex in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap) Prime Minister Han Duck-soo (4th from Left) presides over a Cabinet meeting at the government complex in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a motion demanding the National Assembly reconsider a bill mandating a special counsel investigation into the military's response to a Marine's death last year.

President Yoon Suk Yeol is expected to endorse the motion later in the day, sending the legislation back to the National Assembly in his 10th veto of a bill since taking office in May 2022.

The bill, which was passed by the opposition-controlled parliament early this month, calls for the appointment of a special counsel to look into allegations Yoon's 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 ruling bloc, including Yoon, has opposed the bill, citing the need to first see the results of an ongoing investigation by the police and the Corruption Investigation Office for High-Ranking Officials.

"The executive branch must respect the legislative branch's legislative authority as much as possible," Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said during a Cabinet meeting before the motion was approved. "However, this special counsel bill carries many problems in terms of its content, including its deliberative process and the recommendation method for a special prosecutor."

In particular, Han said past special counsel probes have "always" been introduced by agreement between the rival parties or with the government's acceptance, but the latest bill was railroaded by the opposition party and gives the opposition the sole right to recommend candidates for the special counsel, which he said could violate the president's right to make personnel appointments and the separation of powers guaranteed by the Constitution.

"The government promises once again to do its best to determine the truth behind the case of Marine Chae and to ensure there is no carelessness in resolving the people's suspicions," he said.

For a bill to pass the National Assembly in a revote, it requires a majority of the 300-member parliament to be present and two-thirds of them to cast their ballots in favor.

While the main opposition Democratic Party holds 155 seats, together with splinter parties and independence lawmakers, the number could rise to about 180.

Unless there is support from some ruling party lawmakers, the bill could be discarded during the current session of the National Assembly, whose term expires later this month. (Yonhap)