On November 11th, Lee Joon Seok, captain of the Sewol ferry, was sentenced to 36 years in prison for neglecting his duties as a captain.
The Sewol Ferry incident, which occurred on April 16th, left the whole world grieving for those whose lives were lost. In total, 304 lives were lost and 154 people were injured. Most of the people affected were high school students who were on a field trip, and this incident created outrage in South Korea over poor safety standards and the failure of first responders to rescue people in time as the ferry capsized.
Many had sought that the captain be tried for murder charges, but he was only found guilty of negligence and going against the Seafarers Act. However, the chief engineer Park Gi Ho was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The judge’s reasoning for the captain’s verdict was, “Since Captain Lee Joon Seok had apparently ordered his second in command to have the passengers flee before he escaped the sinking ferry, it is hard to prove that his actions directly caused the deaths of the passengers.” The remaining staff of 13 was also sentenced to 5-20 years in prison.
The fact that the Captain was not found guilty of murder left a bad impression on many and caused an uproar amongst the families of the victims, who were quoted as saying, “Do you know how many kids died?” “Is this what our childrens’ lives are worth?” “You might as well let them all go.”
Source: Yonhap News