A South Korean court has sentenced Lee Joon-seok, former captain of the passenger ferry Sewol, to 36 years in prison for gross negligence in the deaths of more than 300 passengers. (source: IHS Maritime360)
The court in Gwangju found the captain not guilty of murder but convicted him of gross negligence. The ruling disappointed some of the country’s prosecutors who sought the death penalty. They alleged that Lee did not use available equipment such as life rafts, life vests, and announcements to evacuate the passengers.
Meanwhile, Sewol’s chief engineer, Park Gi-ho, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for homicide for failing to assist two injured crew members. In addition, the court found the other 13 surviving crew members guilty of various charges that include criminal negligence and accidental homicide. They were sentenced to terms of five to 20 years.
Related news: South Korea passes Sewol bills
The Sewol ferry sank on the morning of 16 April 2014 after making a sharp turn while en route from Incheon to Jeju. A police investigation revealed that the ferry had undergone an illegal redesign and was carrying twice as much cargo as it was designed to hold. A further investigation revealed collusive ties between ferry operators and regulators that had contributed to the Sewol’s owner’s decision to skimp on safety features in a bid to save money.