SEOUL – Police brought in a former high-ranking intelligence officer for questioning on Thursday as part of their widening investigation into the bungled response to the crowd crush in Seoul's Itaewon neighborhood.

Park Sung-min, a superintendent general, appeared before a special investigation team in western Seoul as a suspect. A superintendent general is the fourth-highest rank.

He is the highest-ranking police officer among a total of 17 police officers and government officials booked for the police investigation into the deaths of 158 people, mostly those in their 20s, on Oct. 29.

Park is under suspicion of ordering the deletion of an internal intelligence report giving prior warnings of a possible safety accident during the Halloween period in a suspected attempt to cover up inaction.

Park is currently temporarily suspended from his post.

A fire official, surnamed Lee, at Yongsan Police Station covering the Itaewon district also appeared for questioning.

Lee was at the crush site along with Choi Seong-beom, chief of the station, who also has been booked on charges of professional negligence.

Choi is accused of inaction in the face of police requests for a joint response on the night of the accident, officers said. (Yonhap)