SEOUL, South Korea – A South Korean court convicted three relatives of the sunken ferry’s owner and other associates for corruption on Wednesday, about four months after the tycoon was found dead on the run.
The body of fugitive billionaire Yoo Byung-eun was discovered in rural South Korea in July after a weekslong manhunt. Authorities allege his corruption likely contributed to the ferry sinking in April that killed more than 300 people. They say Yoo controlled the ferry operator through a complex web of holding companies in which his children and close associates are large shareholders.
On Wednesday, Yoo’s eldest son, Yoo Dae-gyun, was sentenced to three years in prison over embezzlement and breach of trust, according to Incheon District Court spokesman Jang Joon Ah.
Two brothers of Yoo Byung-eun were convicted of similar corruption charges. One brother got a two-year prison term and the other was sentenced to one year in prison but his sentence was suspended for two years, Jang said.
Ten of the late tycoon’s associates were also sentenced to up to four years in prison over embezzlement and other corruption charges on Wednesday, Jang said.
He said prosecutors and Yoo’s convicted family members and aides have one week to appeal.
The sinking, one of South Korea’s deadliest disasters in decades, caused nationwide grief and fury, with authorities blaming overloading of cargo, improper storage, untimely rescue efforts and other negligence for the deaths.
Last month, South Korean prosecutors demanded the death penalty for the ferry’s captain and life sentences for three other key crew members. A court is to issue those verdicts later this month.