The prosecution is poised to summon the wife of Yoo Byung-eun, the de facto owner of the sunken ferry Sewol, in a bid to put more psychological pressure on the fugitive, investigators said Sunday.
Prosecutors bought up their plan to summon Yoo’s wife Kwon Yoon-ja after the Incheon District Court issued an arrest warrant for Yoo’s brother in-law, Kwon Oh-kyun, on Saturday.
The wife’s younger brother Kwon became the first figure among Yoo’s family, relatives and in-laws to be taken into custody. He is suspected of embezzling company funds from a unit of Chonghaejin Marine Co., the operator of the ill-fated Sewol.
Though Yoo has reportedly been separated from his wife, on the suspicion of colluding embezzlement, for several years, the prosecution is aiming to pressure Yoo by targeting his wife and a few in-laws for interrogation.
Yoo’s oldest son Dae-kyun has already been on a nationwide wanted list with a reward offered and his two other children ― Seom-na and Hyuk-gi ― are also targets for investigators.
So far, none of Yoo’s family and relatives have responded to law enforcement authorities’ summons.
The prosecution on Sunday placed eight followers of Yoo on the wanted list for allegations that they helped him escape and offered hideouts.
Later in the day, spokespeople for the Salvation Sect, reportedly led by Yoo dismissed claims that the 73-year-old business tycoon has sought political asylum in a third country by himself or with the help of the sect’s devotees.
At a news conference at the sect’s compound Geumsuwon in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province, a spokesman said the rumor is “groundless” and his seeking to become a “refugee in a foreign country is illogical at the present stage.”
A week ago, the prosecution said that a foreign embassy in Korea rejected Yoo’s asylum proposal. Some observers alleged that it could be France or the Czech Republic.
Investigators said they have recently obtained intelligence that the fugitive is staying in Haenam or Mokpo, South Jeolla Province, issuing feasibility that he could seek to smuggle himself abroad though port districts or cities.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org)