A South Korean court handed a 36-year prison sentence to the captain of a sunken ferry, saying he was professionally negligent and abandoned his passengers during the disaster in April that killed more than 300 people.
That is so disgusting to jump ship.. Who does that?!
The chief engineer got 30 years, and 13 other crew members were sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, Yonhap news agency and other South Korean media reported, citing the Gwangju District Court in southern South Korea.
Capt. Lee Joon-seok and three other key crew members were earlier indicted by prosecutors on homicide and other charges. Eleven others faced less serious charges.
Lee has apologized for abandoning the passengers, but said he didn’t know his action would lead to so many deaths.
The widely vilified Lee could have received a death sentence for the homicide charges. South Korea hasn’t executed anyone since late 1997, though its courts occasionally issue the punishment.
Prosecutors and the crew members have one week to appeal, according to the court.
A total of 476 people were aboard the ship and only 172 were rescued. Most of the dead were teenage students traveling to a resort island on a school trip.
Nearly seven months after the sinking, 295 bodies have been recovered but nine are still missing. South Korean officials said Tuesday they’ve ended searches for the missing because there was only a remote chance of finding more bodies while worries have grown over the safety of divers. Two civilian divers have died after falling unconscious during searches.
The Sewol’s sinking, one of the country’s deadliest disasters in decades, led to widespread national grief and soul-searching. Authorities blamed overloaded cargo, improper storage, untimely rescue efforts and corruption by the ship’s owners that prevented enough spending on safety, along with the crew members’ behavior.
Many student survivors have said they were repeatedly ordered over a loudspeaker to stay on the sinking ship and that they didn’t remember any evacuation order being given before they helped each other flee the vessel.
Lee has said he issued an evacuation order for passengers. But he initially told reporters days after his arrest that he withheld the evacuation order because rescuers had yet to arrive and he feared for the passengers’ safety in the cold, swift waters.
He should get 30 years for each life lost!