Probe team raids military unit over martial law allegations

Julianna Marshall , July 25, 2018, 3:06 p.m.

A military probe team on Wednesday raided the offices of the Defense Security Command (DSC) over allegations that it drew up a document over the potential invocation of martial law last year to quash anti-government protests.

The unit has been under fire for exploring possible steps to mobilize the military to handle the protests in case a court ruling over the fate of then corruption-tainted President Park Geun-hye unleashed unrest -- a move that reeked of the country's past military authoritarianism.

"From 9 a.m. through 2 p.m., investigators searched the offices of those who wrote the martial law document and secured related materials," a military source told Yonhap News Agency on condition of anonymity.

Those subject to the raid were 15 DSC officials who served as part of a task force dedicated to writing the controversial document. Among them are Maj. Gen. So Gang-won and Brigadier Gen. Gi Woo-jin.

Later in the day, investigators summoned and questioned Gi, a source said on condition of anonymity.

The probe team is seeking to verify who directed the DSC to devise the martial law plans and if the unit really had an intention to put them into action.

The unclassified version of the DSC document included steps to hold sway over media, parliament and the spy agency under martial law. These steps were heavily criticized as a potential threat to the country's democracy.

Rival parties, meanwhile, agreed on Wednesday to hold a hearing after the investigation result by the military probe team and the prosecution, a ruing party spokeswoman said.

The agreement was made during a meeting between the floor leaders of the ruling and opposition parties earlier in the day, Park Kyung-mee said.

The case has drawn the ire of the public, as critics say that the use of the military to curb public rallies runs counter to democratic principles, and it could mark another case of political interference by the military.

Some even called the DSC document part of preparations for a military rebellion, while conservatives argue that the military is entitled to craft measures to prepare for any scenario that could compromise national security.

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