June 11, 2014 / 4:12 PM / in 5 years

French court denies bail for daughter of South Korean ferry family's head

Maritime police search for missing passengers in front of the South Korean ferry "Sewol" which sank at the sea off Jindo April 16, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

PARIS (Reuters) - A French court on Wednesday rejected a request for bail by the jailed daughter of a South Korean businessman who is linked to the capsizing of a ferry that killed more than 300 people.

The court said Yoo Som-Na, who has been held in France since May 28, was a flight risk. She is the daughter of Yoo Byung-un, himself the subject of an intense manhunt in South Korea.

Yoo Byung-un faces charges of embezzlement, negligence and tax evasion related to holdings of I-One-I, an investment vehicle owned by his sons. I-One-I ran the shipping company Chonghaejin Marine, which owned the ferry Sewol.

The Sewol sank off the South Korean coast in April. Of the 339 people on board, most of them high school students, only 172 were rescued.

Yoo Som-Na was the former head of one of those companies. A May 16 Interpol red notice had called for her arrest “for fraud and embezzlement” from 2004 to 2013, the court said. She is being at the Fresnes jail outside Paris, awaiting extradition to South Korea.

The president of the Paris court of appeals, Jean Bartholin, said the court is awaiting an extradition request from South Korea, which is in process. In the meantime, he said, Yoo could be a flight risk, given that one of her brothers “left France and has now disappeared.”

Bartholin also said South Korean authorities thought her father had fled their country. Yoo Som-Na’s lawyer, Patrick Maisonneuve, said his client had been “taken hostage” while police search for her father.

On Wednesday, thousands of police and prosecutors in Korea raided a religious compound searching for Yoo Byung-un. He and one of whom is based in the United States, have eluded a police manhunt for nearly a month.

Reporting By Chine Labbe; Writing by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Larry King

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