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S Korea police arrest son of sunken ferry owner

  • AFP, Seoul
  • Updated: Jul 25, 2014 21:15 IST

South Korean police arrested Friday the fugitive son of a business tycoon who owned the Sewol ferry which sank in April with the loss of around 300 lives, officials said.

Yoo Dae-Kyun, 44, was picked up in a southern suburb of Seoul just three days after his father Yoo Byung-Eun was confirmed dead.

His arrest is expected to boost the official investigation into whether mismanagement by the Yoo family contributed to the ferry disaster.

Yoo Byung-Eun, 73, had been the target of an unprecedented, months-long manhunt involving tens of thousands of police officers and army troops.

His body was found on June 12, lying in a field just outside the city of Suncheon, 300 kilometres (186 miles) south of Seoul.

At first, local police had no idea it was Yoo's body and a nation wide manhunt for the reclusive billionaire had continued for six weeks before DNA and fingerprint evidence revealed the corpse's identity.

State prosecutors had offered a $500,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. For the son, a reward of $100,000 has been offered.

Yoo Byung-Eun was the patriarch of the family that owned and operated the Sewol ferry which sank April 16 with the loss of around 300 lives -- mostly schoolchildren.

Yoo Byung-Eun's wife Kwon Yoon-Ja was arrested last month and their daughter Yoo Som-Na has been fighting an extradition bid in Paris.

Forensic experts said Friday they had been unable to determine the cause of Yoo Byung-Eun's death after examining his body.

The fact that the body was in a police morgue for six weeks while the manhunt was still under way triggered a storm of angry ridicule.

Two senior police officials and a top prosecutor in the case were both dismissed from their posts as a result.

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