South Korea police raid church tied to fugitive sunken ferry firm boss

South Korean police raided a religious commune today seeking the arrest of a businessman linked to the ferry that sank and killed more than 300 people as pressure mounted on the authorities for failing to catch him for more than three weeks. Yoo Byung-un is wanted on charges of embezzlement, negligence and tax evasion stemming from a web of business holdings centred around I-One-I, an investment vehicle owned by his sons that ran the shipping company Chonghaejin Marine. The raid was launched a day after President Park Geun-hye, whose government has faced sharp criticism over its handling of the April ferry disaster, said “it made no sense” that such an extensive search operation had failed to catch Yoo. Four church members were detained for providing shelter for Yoo or helping him flee, police said. Another church member was detained for allegedly trying to obstruct the raid. About 200 church members rallied against the raid, hanging up a large banner that read, “We’ll protect Yoo Byung-eun even if 100,000 church members are all arrested”.

Yoo must be brought to justice.

President Park Geun-hye

Authorities last month increased tenfold the reward for information leading to his arrest to the equivalent of half-a-million dollars. The raid also followed the opening on Tuesday of the trial of 15 surviving crew members in a courtroom packed with angry parents of some of the many high school students who died aboard the ferry. Four officers, including captain Lee Joon-seok, face homicide charges after they were seen escaping the sharply listing vessel.