Date
16 August 2017
South Korean police transport a stretcher with a body believed to be that of Yoo Byung-un, who headed the family that owned the operator of a ferry that capsized in April, into an ambulance in Suncheon on July 22. Photo: Reuters
South Korean police transport a stretcher with a body believed to be that of Yoo Byung-un, who headed the family that owned the operator of a ferry that capsized in April, into an ambulance in Suncheon on July 22. Photo: Reuters

S Korea ferry fugitive hid as police searched cabin in May

Yoo Byung-un, who was wanted in connection with South Korea’s April ferry disaster and whose heavily decomposed body was found in an orchard last month, is said to have evaded arrest in May by hiding behind an upstairs wall as the police searched a wooden cabin, Reuters reported.

The businessmen hid behind a wall with suitcases of cash at hand, prosecutors were quoted as saying Wednesday.

The body of the 73-year-old Yoo, who helmed the family that owned the capsized ferry, was only identified this week, more than a month after he was found lying next to a copy of a book he had written, ending South Korea’s biggest manhunt.

“We did all we could to find Yoo and are devastated we couldn’t find him alive,” Kim Hoe-jong, a senior prosecutor, told reporters in Incheon, the city where the ferry began its last voyage.

Yoo’s family owned a company that operated the Sewol, a ferry that capsized on April 16 on a journey to the holiday island of Jeju, killing about 300 people, most of them schoolchildren.

The businessman was holed up in a modest but well-appointed two-storey cabin on the outskirts of Suncheon as police began looking for him. Police raided the cabin on May 25 but failed to find Yoo, the report said.

When they returned last month, acting on testimony given by an assistant, police found two suitcases that between them contained the equivalent of US$970,000, according to prosecutors.

It is not clear how, or when, Yoo traveled the two kilometers to where his body was found nearly three weeks later between orchard saplings, the report said.

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