Feb. 1 (UPI) — A former maritime minister and a vice minister were arrested Thursday on charges of interfering with an independent panel’s investigation into the cause of the deadly sinking of the Sewol ferry.

The Seoul Western District Court issued warrants to detain ex-Maritime Minister Kim Young-suk and ex-Vice Minister Yoon Hag-bae, citing that the details of their crime have been sufficiently ascertained.

The panel was set up in 2015 under a special law enacted to determine why the 6,800-ton ship capsized in waters off the southwest coast in 2014, killing more than 300 people, mostly high school students.

The panel, composed of maritime experts, lawyers and civilians, delved into government documents and prosecution reports and gathered evidence, but its activities were limited as it was not authorized to subpoena or prosecute government officials.

Kim and Yoon are accused of ordering maritime ministry officials to come up with various methods to interfere with the panel’s probe.

In December 2017, the ministry asked the prosecution look into the related allegations and noted that around 10 ministry officials will be subject to investigation.

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