A South Korean ferry captain has been found guilty of gross negligence and sentenced to 36 years in prison over the sinking of his vessel in a crash that killed over 300 people in April.
Lee Joon-seok, one of 15 crew members, was caught leaving the scene of the sinking ferry carrying some 476 secondary school students.
The Sewol ferry was carrying 476 people when it went down. More than 300 died, most of them school students.
Lee Joon-seok was among 15 crew members on trial over the sinking, one of South Korea’s worst maritime disasters.
Initially, prosecutors wanted to charge Lee with the death penalty, but refrained because he was not the only person involved in the tragedy. Thirteen other crew members were charged with abandonment, and disregarding maritime law, and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Lee accepted his charge in court. During the trial, he apologized for neglecting the passengers, but relatives still left angry.
Relatives of victims were distraught at the verdict, with some weeping.
The AFP news agency reported that one woman screamed in the courtroom: “It’s not fair. What about the lives of our children? They (the defendants) deserve worse than death.”
The Japanese-built ferry took a sharp turn and toppled over, causing the vessel to completely submerge under water. The disaster can be blamed on numerous faults: illegal redesigns, the overloading of cargo, and inexperienced crew members at the helm.
SOURCE: BBC NEWS | PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY
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