A group of investigators again forced their way into Geumsuwon, a religious compound in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province, on Wednesday in a bid to arrest key aides of Yoo Byung-eun, the de facto owner of the sunken ferry Sewol.
Police arrested several people suspected of helping Yoo evade police and providing him places to hide. The compound is owned by the Salvation Sect, which is led by the 73-year-old fugitive.
Some 4,000 police officers, armed with court-issued warrants, were dispatched around 8:10 a.m. The prosecution and police suspect that two female followers were closely assisting Yoo.
Yoo is believed to run Chonghaejin Marine Co., the operator of the ferry Sewol that sank off the southwest coast on April 16. He remains an influential founding member of the religious sect.
Some hundred devotees built a blockade in front of the retreat, nestled in the mountains about 80 kilometers from Seoul, but did not try to stop the police from entering the premises.
The followers of Yoo have been staging a sit-in protest at the gate, arguing that the church has nothing to do with the allegations raised by the investigators.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org)