Two aides to fugitive Sewol owner put under arrest

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jun 5, 2014 - 20:33
  • Updated : Jun 5, 2014 - 20:33
Two aides to the fugitive owner of the sunken ferry Sewol have been put under emergency arrest to face questioning in connection with the deadly disaster that claimed the lives of nearly 300 people, mostly high school students, prosecutors said Thursday.

A massive manhunt has been under way for weeks for Yoo Byung-eun, who is suspected to own the ill-fated ship operator Chonghaejin Marine Co. He is wanted for a string of corruption charges and irregularities that are believed to have contributed to the April 16 sinking of the Sewol.

The Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office said it has rounded up two chiefs of affiliates owned by Yoo, including the fugitive’s brother-in-law, on charges of breach of trust.

“Besides the two put under emergency arrest, we have also quizzed others who are accused of helping Yoo flee,” said Kim Hoe-jong, the head of the special investigation team.

Kim added that Cho Pyeong-soon, another close aide to Yoo, was summoned Thursday to face questioning on charges of managing the owner family’s massive assets hidden under borrowed names.

Prosecutors suspect that Yoo ― a religious figure and ex-convict ― owns the ferry operator and a dozen other affiliates through his two sons and is responsible for the ship’s allegedly lax safety practices.

Motivated by profit, the operator overloaded the ship with passengers and cargo even though its balance was substantially compromised after a remodeling.

As part of its efforts to arrest the owner family, the prosecution last month hiked the amount of the rewards for information leading to the arrests of Yoo and his eldest son, Dae-kyun, to 500 million won ($488,158) and 100 million won, respectively. (Yonhap)