Arrest the Yoo familyThree weeks have passed since the prosecution put the fugitive Yoo Byung-eun, de facto owner of the sunken Sewol ferry, and his first son, Dae-gyun, on the wanted list. Even though the first trial for Lee Jun-seok, the captain of the ferry, and his 14 crew members has begun, the prosecution cannot find the truth behind the unfathomable disaster without arresting Yoo and his family. Citizens are increasingly frustrated over the prosecution’s futile attempts to locate the suspects’ whereabouts.
A joint prosecution-police team again raided Geumsuwon - a religious compound in Anseong, Gyeonggi, of the Salvation Sect that Yoo founded - after being rebuked by President Park Geun-hye for failing to catch the fugitives. Despite mobilization of military forces to arrest them, law enforcement authorities still have trouble catching them due to their failures in arresting Yoo’s close aides, who are believed to have helped him escape. We could expect to hear he has been successfully smuggled into another country soon.
In the trial for Sewol captain Lee and his crew, who are accused of murder and other serious criminal charges at Gwangju District Court, a public defender attributed the unparalleled maritime disaster to the shipping company Chonghaejin Marine, saying Lee could not have been involved in overloading the ferry with cargo as he was working as a part-time skipper at the time of the sinking. The lawyer also said that other crew members cannot be held accountable for the loss of hundreds of passengers - mostly high school students - because “they simply followed the Coast Guard’s order to get out of the ship.” Relatives of the victims in and around the court cried out, “Why didn’t you tell our children to jump out of the ship?”
Without direct investigation into the Yoo family, the law enforcement authorities cannot tell the whole truth behind the tragedy, not to mention bring them to justice. The disaster resulted from the greed of the Yoo family, the aberrant operation of the shipping company, the utter irresponsibility of the crew and the fatal dereliction of duty among maritime authorities. The prosecution must quickly arrest the Yoo family to find the truth. Under such circumstances, Yoo’s escape disqualifies him both as a religious leader and businessman.
As President Park said, it is hard to understand why law enforcement agencies cannot locate Yoo and his offspring. Even after Geumsuwon was singled out as a “control tower” to help Yoo flee, they failed to catch his helpers. The clock is ticking. If Yoo’s escape is prolonged, the prosecution and police must take responsibility. We urge all involved to settle the case as soon as possible.
JoongAng Ilbo, June 12, Page 34
Correction and rebuttal statement by the Evangelical Baptist Church
The Korea JoongAng Daily, regarding the reports since April 16, 2014, about the Evangelical Baptist Church (EBC) and Yoo Byung-eun, is publishing the following corrections and an excerpt from the rebuttal statement by the EBC.
Through three past investigations by the prosecution, it has been revealed that Yoo and the EBC, also known as the “Salvation Group” and Guwonpa in Korean, are not related to the Odaeyang mass suicide incident. That was also confirmed by the prosecution in its official statement on May 21. The prosecution’s investigation also found that Yoo had not made an attempt to smuggle himself out of the country or seek political asylum in France. We, therefore, correct the concerned reports.
Yoo retired from his executive management position in 1997. He did not own any shares in the noted companies, nor had he managed operations or used the operating funds for personal reasons. There are no grounds to call him the actual owner and chairman of the company. As such, he did not provide any directives in regards to the overloading of the Sewol ferry or its renovation.
It was verified that the captain and crew members who abandoned ship at the time of the Sewol ferry accident are not members of the EBC. It has also been verified that the EBC does not own any shares of Chonghaejin Marine Company and did not engage in its management.
The EBC’s position is that the museums in the United States and Europe can never authorize an exhibition unless the artistic value of an artist’s works is recognized by the screening committee, irrespective of the amount of money an artist donates. The EBC’s position is that the exhibitions were not a result of Mr. Yoo’s patronage or donation, and Yoo also has not coerced Chonghaejin and its affiliates to purchase his photos.
The EBC states that Yoo did not participate in the foundation of the EBC in 1981, and the church does not offer him the title “pastor.” It also says a significant part of the 240 billion won ($206 million) worth of assets suspected of belonging to the Yoo family are real estate properties owned by the farming associations, which had been established by church members.
The EBC states that there are certain churches in Korea that call the EBC a cult, solely based on differences between their’s and the EBC’s doctrines.
But the EBC does not worship a particular individual as a religious sect leader or preach any doctrine that contradicts the Bible.