The findings come after it conducted a 10-day special investigation into the death of the 22-year-old private first class late last month.
He was hit by a bullet in the head while walking back to his base in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province, after carrying out some construction work. The firing range was located about 400 meters away.
|An Army firing range in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province. (Yonhap)|
The Army initially announced that he was apparently struck by a ricochet. But suspicions have been rampant about the exact cause of his death.
Defense Minister Song Young-moo ordered his ministry's to conduct a detailed probe into the case.
"It has been confirmed that he was killed by a 'stray bullet' that flew straight from the nearby shooting range," the ministry said.
It characterized the killing as an accident brought on by a combination of poor security measures and live fire safety control at the site.
It ruled out the possibility of someone "directly taking aim" at the soldier, citing poor visibility outside the range from the firing line and the undisclosed schedule of the work detail troop movement.
The ministry said it plans to seek warrants to arrest three Army officers on charges of dereliction of duty that resulted in the death of the soldier.
It will also request the Army to discipline 16 others. (Yonhap)