Military investigators have sought a warrant to arrest a non-commissioned officer for allegedly treating his six subordinates harshly at a Marine Corps hotel, a military official said Thursday.
The arrest warrant for the sergeant first class, whose name is being withheld, was sought Wednesday. He is accused of having treated the six cruelly at the hotel for soldiers and their families near the Marine Corps Command in Hwaseong, south of Seoul, this year.
Since he was assigned to the hotel early this year, the non-commissioned officer has allegedly committed various acts deemed to be harsh, including holding the men's tongues with a pair of tongs, and beating their heads and elbows with a baseball bat, the official said.
Testimonies obtained from the victims prompted the military investigators to look into the case as a possible crime.
Twenty officers and soldiers work at the hotel, which is equipped with a restaurant, a beer hall, guest rooms and a public bathroom. The soldiers man the front desk, serve food at the restaurant and maintain the hotel's facilities.
Military authorities were alerted to the case Saturday and sent military police to the hotel. During the investigation, some officers were found to have personally used liquor worth 2 million won (around US$1,800).
In August, the Marine Corps' audit office learned about the case after some soldiers at the hotel gave testimony about the non-commissioned officer's harsh acts against them. But it did not launch a probe into the case.
The military authorities dismissed a major in charge of the audit and are interrogating him about the failure of the probe. Four officers at the hotel, also dismissed from their positions, are under investigation.
Since Tuesday, the Marine Corps has implemented a complete checkup on its five hotels to see if there are any similar cases.
The Marine Corps issued a statement saying, "It is very regrettable that something that should not have been done took place, and the victimized Marines were not protected."