[Kim Seong-kon] The ship of fools and the country of fools

Sewol owner's son partially denies embezzlement charges

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Published : 2014-08-27 15:15
Updated : 2014-08-27 15:30

The eldest son of the late shipping tycoon blamed for April's ferry disaster partially denied embezzlement charges Wednesday at a court hearing.

Yoo Dae-kyun, 44, the son of Yoo Byung-eun, is charged with misappropriating about 7.39 billion won ($7.28 million) from the ferry Sewol operator Chonghaejin Marine Co. and six other affiliates between May 2002 and December 2013.

"(Yoo) accepts most of the related facts in the arraignment," Yoo's lawyer said during the first trial session held at a district court in this western port city.

The lawyer, however, argued that some clauses of a law on specific economic crimes were not applied properly and that embezzlement charges should be brought separately for each affiliate.

The younger Yoo, meanwhile, requested that the court temporarily release him from jail to attend his father's funeral, which is slated for Saturday.

Under the law, the confinement of a suspect can be suspended when there is "considerable reason," with his or her place of stay limited.

Law enforcement authorities had sought Yoo Byung-eun -- a religious figure and ex-convict -- and Dae-kyun, believing that their alleged corruption may have contributed to the April 16 disaster that left more than 300 people, mostly high school students, dead or missing.

The younger Yoo was arrested at a hideout in a town just outside Seoul together with Park Soo-kyung, a 34-year-old female bodyguard, on July 25, three days after the discovery of his father's badly decomposed body.

At the same hearing, Park pleaded guilty to charges of assisting Yoo escape the police manhunt, saying that she had helped him because she had a close relationship with Yoo and his family.

Many of the elder Yoo's other family members, including his wife and elder brother, have been indicted since the ferry disaster. Yoo's daughter, Som-na, is fighting an extradition bid from Paris, and his second son, Hyuk-ki, is also wanted on corruption charges but is hiding abroad. (Yonhap)



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