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S Korea police arrest son of sunken ferry owner

South Korean police arrested on Friday (25 July) the fugitive son of a business tycoon who owned the Sewol ferry which sank in April with the loss of around 300 lives, officials said.

SEOUL - South Korean police arrested on Friday (25 July) the fugitive son of a business tycoon who owned the Sewol ferry which sank in April with the loss of around 300 lives, officials said.

Yoo Dae-Kyun, 44, was picked up in a southern suburb of Seoul just three days after his father Yoo Byung-Eun was confirmed dead. His arrest is expected to boost the official investigation into whether mismanagement by the Yoo family contributed to the ferry disaster.

Yoo Byung-Eun, 73, had been the target of an unprecedented, months-long manhunt involving tens of thousands of police officers and army troops. His body was found on June 12, lying in a field just outside the city of Suncheon, 300 kilometres (186 miles) south of Seoul.

At first, local police had no idea it was Yoo's body and a nationwide manhunt for the reclusive billionaire had continued for six weeks before DNA and fingerprint evidence revealed the corpse's identity. State prosecutors had offered a US$500,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. For the son, a reward of US$100,000 has been offered.

Yoo Byung-Eun was the patriarch of the family that owned and operated the Sewol ferry which sank on April 16 with the loss of around 300 lives -- mostly schoolchildren. Yoo Byung-Eun's wife Kwon Yoon-Ja was arrested last month and their daughter Yoo Som-Na has been fighting an extradition bid in Paris.

Forensic experts said on Friday they had been unable to determine the cause of Yoo Byung-Eun's death after examining his body. The fact that the body was in a police morgue for six weeks while the manhunt was still under way triggered a storm of angry ridicule. Two senior police officials and a top prosecutor in the case were both dismissed from their posts as a result.

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