|SKorean leader orders fast arrest of ferry owner
South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday instructed prosecutors to make a speedy arrest of the de facto owner of the sunken ferry Sewol that sank off the country 's southwestern coast and left more than 300 people dead or missing, who ran away after ignoring summons.
"The Yoo Byung-eon family who are the root cause of this disaster must repent before the people and lift the veil on it, but they are ridiculing the law and bringing public indignation upon themselves," Park said during a cabinet meeting, Xinhua reports.
Park said such an act of the Yoo family is a challenge to the society and a criminal act that cannot be protected and shielded by anything, instructing the law enforcement authorities to make all-out efforts to apprehend them speedily and bring them to justice.
The ferry Sewol capsized and sank off the country's southwestern coast on April 16. On the 42nd day into search, 288 people have been confirmed dead, with 16 others still missing.
No progress has been made in search for the missing since one body was recovered from the submerged hull on May 21. The dividers of cabins are in danger of collapsing on the extended exposure to salt water, blocking divers from entering some spaces of the ship.
Yoo and his children have been suspected of committing a host of illegal acts such as embezzlement, dereliction of duty and tax evasion. They are under suspicions of transferring corporate funds to the family bank accounts, which led to lack of funds in the ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine and caused lax safety practices such as the inveterate overloading.
Yoo, who is believed to have controlled the ferry operator, and his family were summoned by prosecutors several times, but they have ignored the summons. Arrest warrants were issued for Yoo's second son and eldest daughter, who are staying abroad, and the eldest son have been placed on the most wanted list.
Prosecutors have offered a bounty of 500 million won for Yoo, the highest amount in the country's history. The previous high was 50 million won.
On May 21, prosecutors stormed the suspected hideout where Yoo and his eldest son were believed to be inside, but they had already got away from the prayer retreat in Anseong, a city south of Seoul.
The Evangelical Baptist Church, where Yoo remains an influential figure as a founding member, was suspected of helping Yoo run away from the apprehension in an organized manner.
Hundreds of believers had built lines of human barricade in front of the retreat gate to ban people from getting past.