Gen. Lee Sang-eui
State auditors Friday accused Gen. Lee Sang-eui, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), of being absent from the defense ministry's main command and control center on the night of March 26 when a South Korean Navy ship sank in the West Sea.
The JCS chief is also suspected of pretending that he was present at the control center throughout the night using a falsified document, according to officials at the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI).
A South Korean-led team of investigators, including experts from the United States, Britain, Australia and Sweden concluded last month that a North Korean submarine torpedoed the 1,200-ton Cheonan, killing 46 crew members.
On Thursday, the BAI recommended the Ministry of National Defense punish 25 ranking military personnel, including Gen. Lee, for mishandling the North's attack on the Cheonan.
Lee slept at his office while under the influence of alcohol before showing up at the control center at 5 a.m. the next day, a BAI official said.
On March 26, Lee allegedly drank several shots of whiskey at a dinner with some 30 military officers in Daejeon, after holding a meeting with them on military preparedness.
Lee arrived at the headquarters of the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul, about one and a half hours after the incident was reported, the auditor said.