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S. Korea to punish senior military officers over ship sinking

09-14-2010 16:46 BJT

SEOUL, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's defense chief said Tuesday some high-ranking military officers will be held accountable for fumbles in dealing with the sinking of a warship in March blamed on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) .

Four senior officers, including three generals, have been under investigation for neglecting their duty on the night of the alleged torpedo attack on the navy warship, which killed 46 South Korean sailors.

"Necessary measures will be taken to hold (the officers) responsible as their mistakes have been revealed by auditors," Seoul's Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told lawmakers at a parliamentary meeting.

State auditors previously accused 24 military personnel for blunders in the initial aftermath of the incident.

The military's botched crisis management led to firing of Lee Sang-eui, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who they said was asleep under the influence of alcohol as the navy corvette was sinking. He was one of the 24 officials blamed by the auditors.

South Korea released on Monday a final report of a Seoul-led multinational probe into the sinking of its warship in March, maintaining its stance that DPRK is to blame.

On March 26, South Korea's frigate Cheonan, with 104 crew members aboard, sank near the maritime border with the DPRK after an unexplained explosion. South Korean investigators released their results of the investigation on May 20, claiming that the warship was sunk by a DPRK torpedo.

However, a spokesman from the DPRK National Defense Commission issued a statement on May 20 rejecting the claim of South Korea, and requesting to send an DPRK inspection group to South Korean to verify material evidence.

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: Xinhua

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