The Seoul Central District Court has denied a request for a warrant to arrest Kim Suk-kyoon, who led the Korea Coast Guard in the immediate aftermath of the April 2014 sinking of South Korean ferry Sewol, which led to the deaths of more than 300, mainly young, people.
The court also denied arrest warrants for five other incumbent and former coast guard officials who took part in the rescue operations.
Judge Lim Min-seong said that “at this stage, it is difficult to recognize the need for arrest (based on concerns the suspects may) flee or destroy evidence”.
The state prosecutors also charged some of the officials with forging official documents to cover up their failings. A special investigative unit was established in November 2019 to determine the exact cause of the fatal disaster and to investigate any possible mishandling of the rescue operations.