South Korea fails to identify fugitive ferry owner’s cause of death

24 July 2014 (Last Updated July 24th, 2014 18:30)

South Korean investigators have failed to determine the cause of death of fugitive Yoo Byung-eun, who was wanted for questioning in connection with the Sewol ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people earlier this year.

South Korean investigators have failed to determine the cause of death of fugitive Yoo Byung-eun, who was wanted for questioning in connection with the Sewol ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people earlier this year.

Officials said that the decomposed state of Yoo’s body, which was found in a plum orchard in the southern part of the country on 12 June, revealed no evidence of his death.

National Forensic Service director Seo Joong-seok said: "It was impossible to conclude the cause of death since Yoo’s body was in a very advanced stage of decomposition.

"Test results rule out the possibility of the deceased having taken any drug, alcohol or poison.

"It was impossible to conclude the cause of death since Yoo’s body was in a very advanced stage of decomposition."

"There is no way to determine whether he had suffered any wounds.

"And as the intestines were so badly decomposed, we were unable to determine any disease as a cause."

Yoo owned Chonghaejin Marine Co., which operated the Sewol ferry that sunk on 16 April, claiming more than 300 lives. He went missing shortly after the disaster, prompting a nationwide manhunt.

The passenger ship capsized off the south-west coast on its voyage from Incheon in the north-west to the southern island of Jeju. It was carrying 476 passengers and crew, and 150 vehicles, at the time of the accident.