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Sewol Ferry Captain Sentenced to Life in Prison for SKorea Disaster

Image: Sewol Ferry Captain Sentenced to Life in Prison for SKorea Disaster
Lee Joon-Seok, the captain of the sunken South Korean ferry Sewol, sits for verdicts as the ship's crew members are charged with negligence and abandonment of passengers in the disaster at the Gwangju High Court on April 28, 2015 in Gwangju, South Korea. (Ahn Young-Joon/Pool/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 28 Apr 2015 08:01 PM

The captain of the Sewol ferry, which sank last year in South Korea, killing 304 people, was found guilty of murder Tuesday and sentenced to life in prison.

Lee Joon-seok was acquitted of murder last year but retried after prosecutors appealed the verdict. In the earlier trial, he was found guilty of gross negligence and sentenced to 36 years.

Those killed in the April 16, 2014, sinking were mostly high school students on a field trip. Passengers were told to stay put and wait for rescuers, but most never made it off the boat, inciting anger from family members and others.

The government and South Korean Coast Guard also were the target of criticism, and the captain of the first coast guard ship sent to rescue the Sewol passengers was jailed for negligence and making false report.

In Tuesday's ruling, the high court in Gwangju agreed that Lee committed “murder through willful negligence,” The New York Times reported.

The ship had been carrying twice the legal limit of cargo when it suddenly tilted and sank, the Times said.

“Because of Captain Lee’s irresponsible behavior, many young students died without their lives blossoming,” presiding judge, Seo Kyong-hwan, said Tuesday in his verdict and sentencing. “His conduct, which helped send the country’s national prestige crashing down, can never be forgiven.”

Prosecutors said Lee deserved the death penalty, and family members protested the sentence.

Photos and videos show Lee leaving the ferry while passengers were still aboard.

Fourteen other crew members also received new sentences on Tuesday, ranging from 18 months to 12 years in prison. They previously had longer terms.

"We drew a distinction between the captain Lee Joon-seok who has a grave responsibility and crew members who took orders from the captain. And we considered health conditions of the crew members and actions they took in the rescue operation as well as how they boarded the ferry Sewol," judge Jeon Il Ho said, according to Koreaboo.

Nine bodies still are missing, and South Korea announced last week that it would salvage the ship.

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The captain of the Sewol ferry, which sank last year in South Korea, killing 304 people, was found guilty of murder Tuesday and sentenced to life in prison.
sewol, ferry, captain, sentenced, life, prison
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2015-01-28
Tuesday, 28 Apr 2015 08:01 PM
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