Updated: 06/11/2014 08:39 | By Agence France-Presse

S. Korea police storm compound in search for ferry owner

Thousands of South Korean police forced their way into the compound of a splinter Christian group Wednesday in their search for a fugitive businessman wanted over April's ferry disaster.


S. Korea police storm compound in search for ferry owner

Factfile on the South Korean ferry accident on April 15 that left more than 300 people dead or missing

Live television reports showed police officers, some in full riot gear, streaming into the sprawling church and farming complex at around 8:00 am (0000 GMT) in Anseong, 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Seoul.

A spokesman for the Gyeonggi province police force said 6,000 officers were involved in the raid.

The huge operation came a day after President Park Geun-Hye urged police and prosecutors to step up a nationwide manhunt for Yoo Byung-Eun, 72, a leading member of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Korea.

Yoo is the patriarch of the family behind the Chonghaejin Marine Co. -- the company that owned and operated the 6,825-tonne Sewol passenger ferry which sank on April 16 with the loss of 300 lives, most of them schoolchildren.

"Yoo must be brought to justice," Park told a cabinet meeting.

He is wanted for questioning on possible charges of embezzlement and criminal negligence, as prosecutors investigate the extent to which the Sewol disaster was caused by a lack of safety standards and regulatory violations.

Yoo has no direct stake in Chonghaejin, but his children and close aides control it through a complex web of holding companies.

Prosecutors have offered a reward of close to 500 million won ($490,000) for information leading to the capture of Yoo and 100 million won for that of his eldest son, Yoo Dae-Kyun.

Police had raided the church complex in Anseong three weeks ago but came away empty-handed, amid reports that Yoo may have fled overseas.

The main target of Wednesday's large-scale operation was not immediately clear.

TV reports suggested the police were still hoping to find Yoo and his son, while the Yonhap news agency said the main targets were two senior church followers believed to have helped Yoo evade capture.

The live footage showed police searching the compound's main church building.

Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment.

Yonhap said church followers had erected a barricade at the entrance to the complex, but made no move to block the police after they forced their way through.

The operation also came a day after the trial opened of 15 of the Sewol's surviving crew.

The captain and three of his senior crew members are charged with "homicide through wilful negligence" and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。