NOVEMBER 11, 2014 — Lee Joon-seok, 68, the captain of the Sewol ferry, was yesterday sentenced to 36 years in prison for abandoning ship in the April 16 sinking off Jindo, South Korea, that led to the deaths of more than 300 people, mostly teenage school children.
The district court in Gwangju acquitted Lee of murder charges, saying that prosecutors, who had sought the death penalty, had failed to prove that the captain was aware his actions would lead to the deaths of people on board.
The ferry's chief engineer, identified only by his family name Park, was found responsible for not helping two crew members who later died in the ferry escape. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Thirteen other crew members received sentences ranging between five and 20 years on charges of abandoning ship and violations of ship safety protocol.
Family members of victims were outraged by the verdicts and prosecutors say they will appeal the court's decisions on all 15 crew members.
The ruling came hours after the Korean government ended its seven-month underwater search inside the ferry. The death toll in the disaster currently stands at 295, with nine people still missing.