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South Korea police raid church complex again in hunt for ferry owner

Published on Jun 12, 2014 10:13 AM
South Korean policemen stand guard in front of the main gate of the Evangelical Baptist Church premises, as church believers sit in front of the police barricade, in Anseong on June 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (AFP) - Thousands of South Korean police raided the compound of a splinter religious group on Thursday for the second day in a row as part of a manhunt for a fugitive businessman wanted for April's ferry disaster.

The raid into the sprawling church and farming complex in Anseong, 80 kilometres south of Seoul, involved some 3,600 officers, a police spokesman said. TV footage showed riot police forming human barricades with shields around key facilities in the complex where Yoo Byung Eun, 72, a leading member of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Korea, was believed to have once stayed.

In an operation involving 6,000 police officers on Wednesday, investigators detained five church followers suspected of helping Yoo evade a nationwide dragnet put in place after he defied an official summons to surrender to prosecutors. It was not clear if police had detained anyone after the second raid on Thursday.

Police had raided the church complex three weeks ago, but came away empty-handed, amid reports that Yoo may have fled overseas. Yoo is the patriarch of the family behind the Chonghaejin Marine Co., which owned and operated the 6,825-tonne Sewol ferry which sank on April 16 with the loss of 300 lives, most of them schoolchildren.

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