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Lawmaker transferred to prosecution over alleged ambulance misuse during Itaewon tragedy

11:28 June 01, 2023

SEOUL, June 1 (Yonhap) -- Police transferred an opposition lawmaker to the prosecution last week on suspicion of delaying doctors' arrival at the scene of a deadly crowd crush in Itaewon, Seoul, last October by riding in an ambulance without proper qualifications, officials said Thursday.

Rep. Shin Hyun-young of the main opposition Democratic Party is accused of having a Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) car pick her up from her home while en route to the accident site for what she claims were rescue operations.

This undated file photo shows Rep. Shin Hyun-young of the main opposition Democratic Party. (Yonhap)

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said it forwarded the case to the prosecution last Friday for investigation on charges of violating the emergency medical service act.

A total of 159 people were killed in the tragic crowd surge during Halloween celebrations in Seoul's Itaewon neighborhood on Oct. 29.

The DMAT car, dispatched from Myongji Hospital in Goyang, northwest of Seoul, arrived at the accident site at around 1:45 a.m. on Oct. 30, about three hours after the incident occurred.

The 25-kilometer journey from the hospital to Itaewon took 54 minutes, allegedly 20 to 30 minutes longer than the time taken by other ambulances from different hospitals that covered a similar distance.

The police began investigation following a complaint filed by civic organizations in December against the doctor-turned-lawmaker.

The agency said the first-term lawmaker is suspected of illegally causing a delay in the emergency medical response. But they dropped other allegations of abuse of authority, obstruction of official duties and coercion.

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