S. Korea police raid church in ferry owner search

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

6 PHOTOS
South Korea raid church in ferry search
See Gallery
S. Korea police raid church in ferry owner search
An Evangelical Baptist Church believer shouts slogans against the government as police officers stand guard in font of believers sitting by the main gate of the church in Anseong, South Korea, Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Thousands of South Korean police officers stormed a church compound Wednesday in their hunt for a fugitive billionaire businessman over April's ferry sinking that left more than 300 people dead or missing, officials said. (AP Photo/Ahn Youn-joon)
Police officers take a rest near Evangelical Baptist Church in Anseong, South Korea, Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Thousands of South Korean police officers stormed a church compound Wednesday in their hunt for a fugitive billionaire businessman over April's ferry sinking that left more than 300 people dead or missing, officials said. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Evangelical Baptist Church believers sit before police officers standing in line in font of the main gate of the church in Anseong, South Korea, Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Thousands of South Korean police officers stormed a church compound Wednesday in their hunt for a fugitive billionaire businessman over April's ferry sinking that left more than 300 people dead or missing, officials said. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Evangelical Baptist Church believers sit as police officers stand in line in font of the main gate of the church in Anseong, South Korea, Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Thousands of South Korean police officers stormed a church compound Wednesday in their hunt for a fugitive billionaire businessman over April's ferry sinking that left more than 300 people dead or missing, officials said. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Police officers detain a Buddhist believer to separate from Evangelical Baptist Church believers as she denounced them near the main gate of the church in Anseong, South Korea, Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Thousands of South Korean police officers stormed a church compound Wednesday in their hunt for a fugitive billionaire businessman over April's ferry sinking that left more than 300 people dead or missing, officials said. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Thousands of South Korean police officers stormed a church compound Wednesday in their hunt for a fugitive billionaire businessman over April's ferry sinking that left more than 300 people dead or missing, officials said.

Authorities believe the businessman, Yoo Byung-eun, owns the ship and that his alleged corruption may have contributed to the sinking. Police and prosecutors have been after Yoo for weeks and are offering a $500,000 reward for tips about him.

Yoo is a member of a group called the Evangelical Baptist Church, which critics say is a cult.

About 5,000 police officers, accompanied by prosecution investigators, raided the group's compound Wednesday in Ansung, just south of Seoul, officers said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

Four church members were detained for allegedly providing shelter for Yoo or helping him flee, police said. Another church member was detained for allegedly trying to obstruct the raid.

It was not clear whether Yoo was at the compound at the time of the raid. Police said they were still trying to find and detain more church members for allegedly aiding Yoo.

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, head of the now-defunct predecessor of the ferry's current operator, Chonghaejin, allegedly still controls the company through a complex web of holding companies in which his children and close associates are large shareholders. The government has offered a $100,000 bounty for Yoo's eldest son.

The sinking, one of South Korea's deadliest disasters in decades, has caused an outpouring of national grief, and the country is undergoing national soul searching on public safety. Nearly two months after the sinking, 292 bodies have been recovered - mostly students from a high school near Seoul - and 12 people are still missing.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners