SKorean sect raid continues in ferry disaster manhunt

Thousands of officers greeted by protests at religious retreat; reward still unclaimed for sunken vessel's 'de facto owner'

SKorean sect raid continues in ferry disaster manhunt

World Bulletin/News Desk

The compound of a religious sect was raided for a second straight day Thursday as South Korean investigators continued their search for a man suspected of being the de facto owner of the Sewol ferry, which capsized April 16 leaving more than 300 people dead or missing.

Around 3,600 police officers took part in the latest sweep of the compound in Anseong, south of Seoul -- down from nearly 6,000 on Wednesday, when six arrests were made in a clampdown on members suspected of concealing the whereabouts of Yoo Byung-eun.

Yoo is considered a senior member of the Evangelical Baptist Church, which attracts thousands of visitors to its retreat nestled between mountains nearly 80 km from the capital.

Police and prosecutors, however, are more interested in his reported ownership of the ill-fated Sewol -- and whether corrupt practices could have resulted in the relaxation of safety regulations.

For weeks a near $500,000 reward has been on offer for information that could lead investigators to the 73-year-old fugitive.

Officers were believed to be searching for two more senior church followers on day two of their raid, but they were met with an orchestrated protest by more than a hundred members of the sect -- Anadolu Agency sources at the scene suggested no further breakthrough was likely Thursday.

The operation came after South Korean President Park Geun-hye this week called for Yoo to be "brought to justice." The armed forces are aiming to ensure he does not escape by boat.

Meanwhile, Park continued her government re-shuffle Thursday -- replacing four senior presidential secretaries as part of sweeping post-Sewol tragedy reforms. 

The country's prime minister resigned over criticisms of the government's response to the disaster.


Last Mod: 12 Haziran 2014, 12:31
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