Prosecutors have requested an arrest warrant for the de facto owner of the sunken Sewol-ho ferry, Yoo Byung-eun after he failed to show up for questioning earlier Friday over his alleged role in the ferry disaster.
Yoo is believed to be holed up inside a religious compound in Anseong, Gyeonggi-do province, and authorities are reportedly considering using force to get inside.
But around eight-hundred members of a cult led by Yoo have surrounded the estate in protest of authorities, who they claim are violating their religious freedoms.
Prosecutors say their investigation has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the business irregularities of Yoo and his family which may have led to the ferry sinking.
Yoo is suspected of embezzeling funds worth millions of U.S. dollars from company affiliates owned by the Yoo family, including the operator of the Sewol-ho ferry, Chonghaejin Marine Company.
Investigations point to negligence on the part of the ferry operator as playing a big part in the ferry accident, namely an overloading cargo onto the ferry for the sake of profits.
The 73-year-old was summoned to appear for questioning at 10 a.m. Friday local time, but he did not appear, like his other family members who have ignored similar orders.
The district court in Incheon is set to rule on the prosecution's request for an arrest warrant for Yoo Byung-eun next Tuesday.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.