Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo called for measures to tighten discipline among soldiers following revelations that a Navy officer forced one of his subordinates to make a false confession during a probe in a manhunt case, the defense ministry said Sunday.
Jeong issued the order after being briefed on the results of a probe into the case, the ministry said.
The false confession case has further tainted the image of the military, which had been sullied seriously by allegations that it tried to cover up a border security failure that led to the undetected arrival of a North Korean boat at an east coast port last month.
On July 4, soldiers on guard duty found an unidentified person near the ammunition depot inside the Navy's Second Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul. When asked for a countersign, the person failed to give an answer and ran away.
During the probe, one of the soldiers stationed at the base confessed it was him, which later turned out to be false.
The incident has sparked criticism over lax discipline among service persons and wrongful practices in the military. Some also have raised suspicions that the military attempted to scale down the incident by failing to report the case to top commanders, including Jeong and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Park Hak-ki.
Upon learning of the incident on Friday, the defense minister sent a group of investigators to the command, which found out that the unidentified individual was one of the command's soldiers who had been on guard duty nearby.
The panel also concluded that a lieutenant commander allegedly suggested his subordinate make such a false confession so as not to trouble the entire unit.
"The officer said he did so based on his own decision. The military police booked him without physical detention on charges of abuse of authority," the ministry said in a release. (Yonhap)