The South Korean defense ministry announced on Thursday that an Air Force non-commissioned officer has been arrested on charges of sexually harassing and injuring a female colleague of the same rank that pushed the victim to take her own life.
The arrest warrant was issued by a military court on Wednesday amid mounting criticism and pressure on the military for their alleged mishandling of the case.
The majority of the public has been enraged due to the military’s purported attempt to cover up the case – a move that the victim’s family said prompted the victim to take her own life.
According to the ministry, the suspect has been identified only by his surname as master sergeant Jang.
Results of the investigation indicated that the officer sexually assaulted the victim in a car on their way back to their base in the western city of Seosan after attending a private dinner in March.
In the press release, the ministry said the victim – also identified only by her surname Lee – was later on transferred to another base two after reporting the indecent act of her colleague.
The military then discovered the lifeless body of the victim at her on-base residence on May 22.
In a petition to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the victim’s family stressed that Lee suffered from severe mental distress because her superiors persistently urged the victim to settle the case with the suspect without taking due measures to protect her rights as a victim, which eventually drove her to commit suicide.
Defense Minister Suh Wook met with the bereaved family earlier on Thursday and pledged to conduct a thorough investigation into the case to gather transparent findings and bring justice to the victim’s death.
“We will thoroughly look into the case so that there is no room left for any doubts,” Suh said in a statement.