South Korean parliament votes for special counsel probe into marine's death

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's parliament voted on Thursday to appoint a special prosecutor to probe allegations that military officials and the presidential office interfered in an internal investigation into the death of a marine last year.

The main opposition Democratic Party have accused South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol of intervening in the military's probe into the death of South Korean marine Chae Su-geun, who was swept away by a torrent while conducting a search and rescue operation for flood victims last year.

Members of Yoon's People Power Party boycotted the vote.

In May, Yoon vetoed a similar opposition-led bill to mandate a special counsel investigation into the marine's death. The president is again expected to veto the bill passed on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Chung Jin-suk, Yoon's chief of staff, said authorities such as prosecutors should first finish their investigations into various allegations around the marine's death, adding that the special counsel bill lacked bipartisan support.

Yoon's office did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for a comment.

The case of the marine's death is among the latest political controversies around Yoon, whose party suffered defeat in parliamentary elections in April.

An online petition calling for Yoon to be impeached experienced delays and disruptions this week due to a large number of people trying to sign.

More than 1 million people have so far signed the petition, which is hosted on the National Assembly's website, since it went live on June 20.

Yoon has been unpopular since taking office in 2022, with his latest approval ratings hovering around the 25% mark since April.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)