Woman linked to Sewol operator arrested in France

June 7, 2017

PARIS/INCHEON, June 7 (Yonhap) — The daughter of a late businessman blamed for the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster has been arrested, as France extradited her three years after she fled to avoid arrest on embezzlement charges, officials said Wednesday.

The Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office said they apprehended Yoo Sum-na, the daughter of Yoo Byung-eun, aboard a Korean Airlines plane bound for Incheon at Charles de Gaulle Airport at around 3:30 a.m.

She arrived in Incheon at around 3:00 p.m. wearing white pants and a khaki jacket with her handcuffed hands covered with a black cloth. She refused to answer reporters’ questions.

The 51-year-old was transferred to the prosecutors’ office in Incheon to face questioning for financial irregularities related to the operator of the ill-fated Sewol ferry.

“I have never attempted to flee South Korea,” the younger Yoo told reporters before entering the prosecution office, denying allegations brought against her.

The 6,800-ton ship sank off the country’s southwestern coast on April 16, 2014, killing more than 300 passengers, mostly high school students on a field trip.

“I feel so sad and am aware that no kind words could heal the tragedy,” Yoo said. However, she also denied that her father was the de facto owner of the Sewol ferry company.

French police took Yoo into custody at her home near the Champs-Elysees in Paris and escorted her to the South Korean prosecution officials, they said.

She is the first extradition case since the extradition treaty between the two countries took effect in 2008.

As the prosecution launched an investigation into the elder Yoo’s finances in relation to the disaster, she was put on Interpol’s wanted list at the South Korean prosecution’s request.

But she fled the country that year after refusing to be summoned for suspected embezzlement worth some 49 billion won (US$43.7 million) from Cheonghaejin Marine Co.

While she was in France, Yoo filed for an appeal with Conseil d’Etat, the highest administrative court in France, on the extradition order handed down by a lower court. The court has dismissed her appeal.

elly@yna.co.kr

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