Former Seoul police chief charged over protestor death

An anti-government protester gestures before riot police firing a water cannon in Seoul in November 2015

A former Seoul police chief and three other officers were charged Tuesday over the death of a protester hit by a water cannon during an anti-government protest two years ago.

Baek Nam-Ki, a 69-year-old farmer, was knocked over by the jet of water during a huge protest against Seoul's labour policies in November 2015, and fell into a coma. He died 10 months later.

His plight sparked widespread outrage, with police coming under fire for what critics described as excessive force during public rallies.

Goo Eun-Soo, the city's police chief at the time, another official and the two officers manning the water cannon were charged with negligent homicide, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office said.

Police allegedly trained the jet squarely at the victim's head, despite a ban on directing it above the chest.

Prosecutors also revealed that a device controlling the water pressure was malfunctioning, enabling it to be used at pressures exceeding the legal limit.

Police have denied responsibility for Baek's death, saying they followed all applicable rules.

The case was reopened after new president Moon Jae-In took office in May. Alleged excesses under the government of ousted president Park Geun-Hye have been coming to light.