4-year jail term sought for Sewol owner's son

4-year jail term sought for Sewol owner's son
From left to right: Yoo Dae-kyoon and Park Soo-kyung.

The prosecution on Wednesday asked the court to sentence Yoo Dae-kyoon, the eldest son of Yoo Byung-eun, the late owner of the Sewol ferry, to four years in prison on charges of embezzlement.

In addition, the Incheon District Prosecutors' Office sought a one-year jail term for veteran actress Jeon Yang-ja, formerly a close aide to Yoo and a core member of the Salvation Sect.

A suspended prison sentence has been sought for Park Soo-kyung, who was indicted for hiding Yoo Dae-kyoon after the April 16 Sewol disaster. The prosecution demanded a jail sentence of eight months and two years of probation for Park.

Yoo Dae-kyoon, 44, was indicted on Aug. 12 on charges of embezzling company funds worth 7.39 billion won (S$8.8 million) at seven units of Chonghaejin Marine Co., the operator of the Sewol, between May 2002 and December 2013.

During the final trial at Incheon District Court, Dae-kyoon said he was "sorry to all of you."

Actress Jeon, 72, admitted to the charges against her last month. Jeon, whose real name is Kim Kyung-sook, accepted the embezzlement and professional negligence accusations against her during a trial at Incheon District Court.

Jeon, the CEO of Norunja Shopping, a unit of Chonghaejin Marine, is accused of embezzling 350 million won of company funds under the pretext of using it for consulting fees.

Park, 34, cried during the final trial, saying that her hope is to teach college students after completing her thesis for a doctorate in the field of taekwondo. She has served as a referee for the World Taekwondo Federation.

Park's attorney said that "the defendant regrets having failed to turn down Yoo Dae-kyoon's request (to help him escape from investigators)."

The attorney also claimed that Yoo's eldest son rejected Park's request to return from the hideout to her home in order to care for her two children.

Investigators arrested Yoo Dae-kyoon and Park at a residence in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, in late July. Park is a daughter of Shin Myung-hee, a confidante of Yoo Byung-eun.

The prosecution also sought prison sentences of several years for eight other aides of the deceased ferry tycoon including Song Kook-bin, the chief of Dapanda.

In late August, a funeral ceremony was held for Yoo Byung-eun at Geumsuwon, the Salvation Sect's religious compound in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province. Yoo was found dead in a southern port city on June 12.

Yoo's burial has created difficulties in determining the cause of his death and retrieving the illicit wealth of his family and confidants.

They are presumed to be accountable for the sinking disaster due to their alleged mismanagement of Chonghaejin Marine and lack of attention to vessel safety.

Some pundits and netizens denounced the investigative authorities, including the prosecution, police and state forensic agency, for handing over Yoo's body to the Salvation Sect after halting their probe into allegations surrounding his death.

Some of them lamented that the key allegation involving Yoo's irregular lobbying activities for the privileged class could be buried along with his body.

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