Connect with us

World

South Korea ferry captain jailed for 36 years

Published

 on 

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

South Korea ferry captain jailed for 36 years
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The captain of a South Korean ferry that capsized in April killing 304 passengers was jailed for 36 years on Tuesday after a court found him guilty of negligence, but was acquitted of homicide for which prosecutors had sought the death penalty.

The court convicted the ship’s chief engineer of homicide for not aiding two injured fellow crew members, making him the only one of four facing homicide charges to be found guilty on that count, and sentenced him to 30 years in prison.

The remaining 13 surviving crew members of the ferry Sewol were found guilty of various charges, including negligence, and handed down prison terms ranging from five to 20 years.

Cries and shouts of anger and disbelief erupted in the packed courtroom in the southern city of Gwangju as the verdict and sentences were read.

“Judge, this is not right,” a woman screamed in anguish as some of the other family members broke down in tears.

“Is this how little the lives of our children were worth?” another said. “The death sentence is not enough for the crew.”

Video footage of the crew abandoning the vessel after instructing the passengers, mostly teenagers, to remain in their cabins had caused outrage and calls for harsh punishment.

The victims’ families issued a statement after the verdict, saying they were devastated by the decision and justice had failed.

“Our hope was miserably destroyed” Park Jong-dae, father of one of the children who died, said in the statement read outside the courthouse, urging the prosecutors to appeal and seek punishment that it said fitted the crew’s crime.

A prosecutor involved in the case said his team would appeal against the decision on all 15 crew members, calling the rulings “disappointing,” particularly the not guilty verdict against three senior officers including the captain on homicide charges.

VESSEL OVERLOADED

The overloaded Sewol capsized while making a turn on a routine voyage to the holiday island of Jeju. The vessel was later found to be defective, with additions made to increase passenger capacity making it top-heavy and unstable.

The ferry operator also loaded the ship with excess cargo and not enough water in the ballast tank to maintain balance, causing it to list sharply when it made the ill-fated turn on April 16 and sink rapidly.

Only 172 of the ferry’s 476 passengers and crew were rescued. Of the 304 confirmed dead or still listed as missing, 250 were school children. The government announced earlier on Tuesday it was halting the search for the nine still missing as conditions at the wreck have become too dangerous.

The public outcry provoked by the tragedy had led to concerns over whether the crew would be able to get a fair trial, especially after the prosecutors charged four of them with homicide.

They had sought the death penalty for the captain of Sewol, Lee Joon-seok, who is in his late 60s and instead faces the rest of his life in prison.

The crew on trial have said they thought it was the coastguard’s job to evacuate passengers and that they were not adequately trained for that role, but most admitted they did not do enough.

Lee, the captain, has apologised to the families of the victims and said he never intended to harm anyone. He pleaded to be spared of the homicide charge, saying he did not want his children to live with a killer as their father.

Executives of the ferry operator and shipping regulators are on trial on various charges of negligence.

The man considered the head of the business empire that owned the ferry company was found dead in June, amid the country’s largest manhunt to capture him to try to hold him accountable for mismanagement that many feel led to the ferry disaster.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand27 mins ago

Gunman wounds 8 in Jerusalem, 48 dead in Israeli Gaza strikes

Thailand46 mins ago

Thailand among top 5 destinations for Chinese travelers | GMT

Travel13 hours ago

Where to find underrated international cuisines in Bangkok

Sponsored1 hour ago

British International School Phuket: Reflecting on 25 years of world-class education

Bangkok14 hours ago

Chinatown manhole covers to use art, tech to become cultural map

Transport15 hours ago

Man fights Indian Railways for 22 years for justice (and 9 baht)

Events17 hours ago

Tourism Minister visits Full Moon Party, supports later curfew

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Crime17 hours ago

Thais cautioned against fake government websites

Thailand18 hours ago

Another Thai boxer dies from brain injury after fight in Malaysia

Thailand18 hours ago

Expats in Thailand, Cartoon characters & Letting Loose | Thaiger Bites

Pattaya19 hours ago

VIDEO: Young Thais have a blast at Pattaya Music Festival weekend 2

Pollution20 hours ago

Anti-Corruption Network complains of smelly wastewater in coastal Thai province

Weather20 hours ago

Flooding from overflowing rivers soaks Chiang Rai and the border

Phuket21 hours ago

Phuket police nab 3,373 meth pills from 5 suspects

Pattaya23 hours ago

Pattaya night club owner gives free meals on Thai Mother’s Day

Thailand23 hours ago

Current Thailand Visa Options for Digital Nomads

Thailand11 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism1 year ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending