The cause of death for fugitive owner of Sewol ferry, Yoo Byung-eun, cannot be determined, South Korea’s forensic agency says.
Yoo Byung-eun was blamed for the recent ferry disaster.
Last week police identified a body found on June 12 as Yoo Byung-eun.
Yoo Byung-eun was wanted for questioning on possible charges linked to the sinking of the Sewol ferry in April, which killed more than 300 people.
Forensic experts said the state of the body meant the manner of his death could not be determined.
Yoo Byung-eun was wanted for questioning on possible charges linked to the sinking of the Sewol ferry
“It was impossible to conclude the cause of death since Yoo’s body was in a very advanced stage of decomposition,” Seo Joong-seok, director of the National Forensic Service (NFS), told journalists.
The NFS had ruled out drugs or poison, he said. But there had been no way to rule out other possible causes.
“There is no way to determine whether he had suffered any wounds,” Seo Joong-seok said.
“And as the intestines were so badly decomposed, we were unable to determine any disease as a cause.”
Police have been criticized for failing to connect the body, which spent six weeks in the mortuary, with Yoo Byung-eun, who was the subject of a lengthy manhunt.
Prosecutors have revealed that he hid in a cupboard at his holiday home to evade arrest. His body was found just 2.5 km from his cabin, in a plum orchard.
Yoo Byung-eun owned Chonghaejin Marine Co, which operated the Sewol.
Sewol ferry sank on April 16 off Jeju island, killing most of its passengers including scores of high-school students. Investigators say it had been illegally modified to carry more passengers and cargo, and was overloaded.
Yoo Byung-eun was wanted for questioning on possible charges of embezzlement and criminal negligence.
The sinking of the Sewol triggered widespread grief and anger at the government, which has promised to overhaul its bureaucracy and improve its emergency response.
Two separate trials – one for the vessel’s captain and crew, and another for officials at Chonghaejin Marine – began last month.
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South Korean police has confirmed that a body they found in June is that of Yoo Byung-eun, the fugitive boss of the operator of Sewol ferry that sank in April, killing more than 300 people.
Billionaire businessman Yoo Byung-eun went missing shortly after the disaster, sparking a massive manhunt.
DNA samples from the body matched those of Yoo Byung-eun’s brother, police spokesman Woo Hyung-ho said.
Police had wanted to question Yoo Byung-eun on possible criminal negligence charges.
Yoo Byung-eun, 73, was head of the family that owned ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine Co.
Yoo Byung-eun went missing shortly after the Sewol ferry disaster, sparking a massive manhunt
He went on the run shortly after the Sewol ferry, whose passengers were mostly schoolchildren, went down near Jindo island.
Yonhap news agency reported that police found a heavily decomposed body last month in a plum field in Suncheon, a city 186 miles south of Seoul.
Yoo Byung-eun was wanted for questioning on possible charges of embezzlement and criminal negligence, as prosecutors investigate whether the disaster was caused by mismanagement.
Many of his family members have been arrested and his daughter, who lives in France, is currently fighting an extradition bid. His eldest son is still on the run.
In June, some 6,000 police officers stormed a church complex in Anseong city belonging to Yoo Byung-eun.
Four church followers were detained on charges of assisting his escape and police said they were looking for several more who had helped the billionaire.
Outside the church, supporters held up a large banner that read: “We’ll protect Yoo Byung-eun even if 100,000 church members are all arrested.”
A reward of 500 million won ($490,000) had been offered for information leading to Yoo Byung-eun’s capture and 100 million won for that of his son, Yoo Dae-Kyun.
The sinking of the Sewol triggered widespread grief and anger at the government, which has promised to overhaul its bureaucracy and improve emergency response.
Two separate trials, one for Sewol ferry’s captain and crew, and another for Chonghaejin Marine Co officials, began last month.
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Fifteen sailors have gone on trial over the deaths of at least 292 people in South Korea’s Sewol ferry disaster.
Captain Lee Joon-seok, 69, and three crew members are being accused of “homicide through willful negligence”. The others face lesser charges.
The trial will focus on Lee Joon-seok’s escape from the sinking ferry while hundreds of passengers remained trapped inside.
Most of the victims of the April disaster were school students, and many of their relatives are at the court.
If convicted, Lee Joon-seok and three crew members could be handed the death penalty, but observers say it is extremely unlikely it would be carried out.
Fifteen sailors have gone on trial over the deaths of at least 292 people in South Korea’s Sewol ferry disaster (photo EPA)
Eleven other crew are being tried on lesser charges of criminal negligence and maritime law violations.
A nationwide manhunt is also under way for fugitive Korean businessman Yoo Byung-Eun, who is believed to own the Chonghaejin Marine company that ran the sunken ferry.
Yoo Byung-Eun’s daughter, Yoo Som-Na, 47, was detained in May at her home in Paris under an international arrest warrant.
Authorities are also searching for his eldest son, Yoo Dae-Kyun, offering a $100,000 for information leading to his arrest.
Yoo Byung-Eun is wanted for questioning on possible charges of embezzlement and criminal negligence.
Prosecutors have offered a $500,000 cash reward for information leading to Yoo Byung-Eun ‘s arrest.
Analysts say there are concerns that the crew will be unable to receive a fair trial in the district court in the south-western city of Gwangju.
The Sewol ferry disaster caused an outpouring of public anger, and there have been calls for severe punishment for the crew.
President Park Geun-hye condemned the conduct of some of the crew of the ferry, calling it “akin to murder”.
The confirmed death toll from the South Korea ferry disaster has reached 292, with 12 passengers still missing.
Prosecutors say the ferry owner ignored safety warnings and allowed the ship to be overloaded.
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