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Gov't files for asset seizure against sunken ferry owner

All Headlines 20:22 June 26, 2014

SEOUL, June 26 (Yonhap) -- The government has launched the process to exercise its right of indemnity against the owner and officials of the ill-fated ferry Sewol, judicial officials said Thursday.

The government filed on Friday for the sequestration of assets owned by Yoo Byung-eun, the de facto owner of the sunken ferry, the chief and four officials of the ferry operator Chonghaejin Corp., and eight crew members aboard the ship, according to the officials. The application was made with Seoul Central Court.

The total amount sought by the government is 403.1 billion won (US$396.8 million), they said, noting the assets include property, vehicles and bonds.

The seized assets are intended to be used to pay compensation to victims and their families. More than 300 people, mostly high school students on a school trip, were killed after the ferry sank off the country's southwest coast on April 16.

The court ordered the government to submit further evidence for its request on the day, the officials added.

Since launching an extensive manhunt for the 73-year-old fugitive owner Yoo and his elder son for multiple corruption charges which the prosecution sees as related to the deadly accident, the authorities have so far arrested four of his family and relatives, including his wife.

Prosecutors suspect that corruption by Yoo's family resulted in lax safety practices, such as cargo overloading, which ultimately led to the tragedy.

The crew members, including the captain, Lee Jun-seok, have also been detained for their failure to attempt to rescue the passengers. They were among the first group of people to be rescued from the ship.

Of the 476 people presumed to have been on the ship, 174 were rescued on the day of the accident. No one has been found alive since, with 11 still unaccounted for.

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