SEOUL, May 21 (Xinhua) -- South Korean prosecutors on Wednesday stormed the suspected hideout, where the de facto owner of a sunken ferry Sewol is believed to be inside, without any opposition, local media reported.
A group of about 70 prosecutors and investigators entered the prayer retreat of the Evangelical Baptist Church in Anseong, a city south of Seoul, to detain Yoo Byung-eon who is believed to have controlled Chonghaejin Marine, the operator of the ferry Sewol which capsized and sank off the southwest coast on April 16.
On the 36th day into search, 288 people have been confirmed dead, with 16 others missing. No survivors have been reported since 172 people were saved from the ship and sea on the day the vessel sank.
About 100 believers of the church gathering in front of the gate let the prosecutors enter the retreat without any opposition, indicating that Yoo may have slipped out of the hideout.
Hundreds of believers had built lines of human barricade in front of the gate to prevent people from getting past, but the church said earlier in the day that it will cooperate in the investigation after prosecutors announced that the church was not related with the case of mass suicide that happened some 30 years ago.
Yoo, who remains an influential figure of the church as a founding member, was investigated in 1987 on suspicion that he could be behind a mass suicide of 32 pseudo-religious believers. At that time, he acted as a minister of the apocalyptic pseudo- religion.
The 73-year-old and his children have been suspected of committing a host of illegal acts, including transferring corporate funds to the family bank accounts, which led to lack of funds in the ferry operator and caused the lax safety practices such as the inveterate overloading.
Yoo and his family have been summoned by prosecutors several times for questioning, but they have ignored the summons. Arrest warrants have been sought for Yoo's second son and eldest daughter, who are staying abroad, and the eldest son have been placed on the most wanted list.
S. Korean president apologizes for ferry sinking disaster
SEOUL, May 19 (Xinhua) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye made an official apology once again for one of the country's deadliest maritime disaster on Monday, vowing a reform in officialdom and safety response system.
"As president responsible for the people's lives and safety, I sincerely apologize for the pains the people have suffered," Park said in her first televised statement to the nation. "The ultimate responsibility for failing to properly respond to this accident lies with me." Full story