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Son’s DNA test reconfirms Yoo’s death

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Published : 2014-07-30 22:30
Updated : 2014-07-30 22:30

Investigators on Wednesday reconfirmed the dead body found on June 12 by a farmer in a South Jeolla Province city is that of Yoo Byung-eun via a fresh DNA comparison amid continuous doubts cast by critics over the corpse’s authenticity.

The National Forensic Service conducted a test on DNA samples from Yoo Dae-kyoon, who was taken into custody on Monday, to compare his genetic makeup with the DNA of his deceased father Yoo Byung-eun.

Police said the forensic agency has found that the genetic profile of Dae-kyoon, 44, matched that of his late father, who died at 73. The Yoos had been placed on the nation’s most wanted list for misconduct charges after the April 16 ferry sinking accident.

The Sewol ferry investigators’ reconfirmation came a day after Rep. Park Beom-kye of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy alleged that “the body could not be that of Yoo Byung-eun” in his news briefing at the National Assembly.

Such speculations have been raised since the state forensic agency said it had failed to determine the cause of the sunken Sewol owner’s death despite an autopsy on his corpse last week.

Though the NFS seemed to be uncertain about the cause of death, the agency had already confirmed that the DNA samples from the body approximately matched those from Yoo Byung-eun’s older brother Yoo Byung-il, 75, who was detained by the prosecution.

Meanwhile, the state police agency said it has not ruled out the possibility that the irregularity-saddled Yoo was murdered, vowing to investigate the incident from square one to resolve a variety of doubts.

On Tuesday, police also dismissed the allegation that the body might be that of one of Yoo Byung-eun’s younger brothers. While Yoo’s younger brother Byung-ho, 62, was detained, “His (other) younger brother has yet to return home after leaving the country for the United States on June 23, 2000,” the agency said in a statement.

The agency also downplayed doubts about the corpse’s height. Some critics argued that the height of the body differs from that of Yoo Byung-eun.

“Generally, there are several methods for uncovering the cause of death for decomposed corpses. But for Yoo’s case, there was no clue to finding the cause as too many bodily tissues had been lost,” said forensic medicine researcher Lee Han-young, who participated in the autopsy on the Sewol owner last week.

He also said it does not seem that Yoo was killed through a physical assault. Lee, however, said it is hard to determine whether his death was due to suffocation or physical violence, reiterating that few soft tissues remained.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)

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