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Evictee Council Suspected of Rehearsing Deadly Protest

Posted January. 22, 2009 08:39,   


Prosecutors yesterday said they will seek arrest warrants for demonstrators who allegedly threw Molotov cocktails or poured paint thinner at the scene of the deadly clash that killed six people accident Tuesday.

They will be charged with committing arson on an occupied building.

Arrest warrants will also be sought for those who carried firebombs or paint thinner to the building and those who led the building of the watchtower.

A prosecutor said, “The people who caused the fire cannot avoid facing criminal charges. Though we plan to handle the case as soon as possible, we will make a precise and prudent judgment.”

Policemen at the scene said thinner was poured around the observation tower when the crackdown began and a fire broke out because demonstrators on the tower’s fourth floor threw Molotov cocktails in the clash between police and protesters on the third floor.

A prosecution official, however, said the protestors caught on the fourth floor are refusing to talk about the incident and have denied responsibility for the fire.

In response, prosecutors went to a hospital where police and demonstrators injured in the incident are being treated to find the leaders of the deadly demonstration.

Securing testimony that members of the National Council of Victims of Forced Evictions gathered evictees ahead of the building’s occupation to teach them how to build a watchtower and rehearse a sit-in protest, prosecutors are also investigating whether the council orchestrated the protest.

Police also identified two bodies as Yoon Yong-heon, 48, and Han Dae-seong, 52.

President Lee Myung-bak said, “The loss of lives was indeed heartbreaking and regretful. Such an incident must never happen again.”

The main opposition Democratic Party also submitted an investigation request to parliament over the accident. “The accident was the Lee administration’s attempt to solidify its iron-fisted rule,” a party official said.

The party wants to probe high-ranking presidential officials on their involvement in the crackdown and the overall procedures and decisions made, including the mobilization of a SWAT team.

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