Korean man arrested on suspicion of murdering his pregnant wife after taking out 26 life insurance polices

Traces of a sleeping pill were found in the woman's system

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The Independent Online

A Korean man has been arrested for allegedly murdering his pregnant wife after taking out over 20 life insurance policies.

The 45-year-old man, only identified as Lee, had signed the couple up to 26 life insurance policies this year, and had been paying 3.6million won (£2078) in monthly premiums for his wife alone.

If it her death is proven to be an accident, insurance firms will have to pay Lee 9.5billion won (£5.5 million), the Korean Times reported.

Police in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, said on Wednesday that Lee has been arrested on suspicion of murdering his 25-year-old wife, who they have not named.

The couple had been married for eight years and had a five-year-old daughter. The Cambodia-born woman became a Korean citizen after they married.

On 23 August, Lee was driving in his van while his seven-month pregnant wife slept in the front passenger seat. The van then reportedly crashed into an eight-ton cargo lorry that was parked on the hard shoulder of a motorway, at around 3:40am in Cheonan, 83.6km from the capital Seoul.

The woman, who was not wearing a seatbelt, died at the scene. Lee, who was wearing a seatbelt, escaped the crash with minor injuries. He was later treated in a nearby hospital. It is not clear whether their unborn baby survived.

Police investigators have since discovered that the passenger seat of Lee’s van was seriously damaged, while the rest of the vehicle was intact, and found traces of a sleeping pill in the woman's blood.

Lee has told police that he had felt drowsy while he was driving.

But officers are suspicious of Lee’s account of the incident, and say that CCTV footage from the highway shows him driving competently, and without presenting the tell-tale signs of a sleepy driver.

The video shows Lee passing a curved section of the highway safely about 800 meters from the scene of crash, before turning on the vehicle's lights onto high beam about 400 meters away, and turning the steering wheel multiple times until the moment of impact.

Police also discovered that Lee took a selfie after the accident but later deleted it.

“It is impossible for a usual sleepy driver to drive that way for such a short time,” a police officer said.

“Lee denies the allegations, saying he was drowsy and did not intend to kill his wife. But we arrested him based on evidence from a joint investigation,” the officer added.

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