Ferry tycoon's daughter held in France over sinking

A family member holds a portrait of a teen who died in the Sewol ferry disaster. Photo / AFP
A family member holds a portrait of a teen who died in the Sewol ferry disaster. Photo / AFP

The daughter of a fugitive Korean tycoon accused of being responsible for last month's ferry disaster which killed hundreds of high school students, has been detained in custody in France pending extradition proceedings.

Judicial sources said a judge had decided against releasing Yoo Som-Na, 47, on bail following her arrest on Tuesday under an international arrest warrant.

Korean authorities want to talk to her in connection with their investigation into a sinking that claimed around 300 lives, most of them school children.

A decision on whether Yoo should be extradited is likely to take months, as French authorities will have to satisfy themselves that there is a legitimate basis for the request.

She will not necessarily be kept in custody until an extradition hearing, but the authorities have that option if they judge that there is a risk of her seeking to flee France.

Yoo Som-Na is the daughter of Yoo Byung-Eun, the head of the family which controls Chonghaejin Marine Co., the company which owned and operated the Sewol ferry that capsized and sunk on April 16.

Yoo and his eldest son Yoo Dae-Kyun are being hunted by Korean authorities, who suspect breaches of legal safety standards may have led to a tragedy that moved the whole world.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye on Tuesday denounced the fugitive members of the family as the "root cause" of the disaster.

The government has offered a US$500,000 (NZ$588,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of Yoo Byung-Eun and US$100,000 for Yoo Dae-Kyun.

Korean prosecutors want to question the two men, Yoo Som-Na and another son who lives in the United States in connection with possible charges of embezzlement, tax fraud and criminal negligence.

Yoo has no direct stake in Chonghaejin, but his children and close aides control it through a complex web of holding companies.

- AFP

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