The man identified as the de facto owner of the South Korean ferry that sank in April killing more than 300 people has been found dead, ending a months-long manhunt, police said.
The body of Yoo Byung Eun, who has been on the run since the disaster, was discovered in a field of plum trees in the southwestern city of Suncheon on June 12 and his identity was recently confirmed through DNA analysis, Woo Hyung Ho, chief of Suncheon Police Station, said today at a televised briefing in Seoul.
“The body was too decomposed to provide a hint on the cause of death,” Woo said. “So far there has been no evidence suggesting homicide.”
Prosecutors blame Yoo for a lack of safety training and investments that could have prevented the April 16 sinking. The tragedy fueled public anger across the country that has brought President Park Geun Hye’s popularity to a record low.
Yoo controlled Chonghaejin Marine Co., operator of the Sewol ferry, through a church group that he leads, authorities say. Prosecutors have indicted Chonghaejin executives along with fifteen crew members who escaped the ferry without evacuating passengers, most of whom were high school students on an excursion. Park on April 21 said the actions of the Sewol crew were “like murder.”
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