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The ferry Sewol is shown sinking in waters off South Korea's southwestern coast April 16. / Yonhap, European Pressphoto Agency

South Korean police Tuesday said a body found in June is believed to be the fugitive billionaire owner of a ferry that sank two months earlier, killing more than 300 people.

DNA evidence indicates the man found in a field about 185 miles south of Seoul is 73-year-old Yoo Byung Eun, who also founded a Christian cult known as the Salvation Sect, the Yonhap news agency reported. His company, Chonghaejin Marine Co., owned the ferry Sewol, which capsized and sank April 16, apparently from overloading.

Police did not say how or when he died. The body was clad in a winter sweater and hat, and was described as "seriously decomposed."

DNA taken from Yoo's nearby vacation home and his older brother "fairly matched," a police official said. Final results are pending from the National Forensic Service.

The announcement came as a court issued a new arrest warrant for Yoo, who was accused of embezzling millions from the ferry company, which authorities said led to overloading ships and cutting corners on safety. In the early 1990s he spent four years in prison after being convicted of embezzlement.

Yoo's 75-year-old brother, whose DNA provided the match, went on trial Monday, along with Yoo's wife and brother-in-law. They are accused of embezzling $29 million from affiliates of Chonghaejin Marine.

The president of Chonghaejin Marine has been arrested, along with four employees who handled the cargo. The ferry captain and 14 crewmembers who survived have also been arrested for negligence and not helping passengers.

Prosecutors said Monday that 331 people are being investigated for possible involvement in the sinking, and that 139 people -- including Coast Guard officers -- have been detained for trial.

Many students were among the 304 passengers who died. Police said 172 people survived.



Copyright 2014USAToday

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