Former Coast Guard official gets prison term in Sewol case

FEBRUARY 11, 2015 — South Korea's Gwangju District Court has sentenced a former Coast Guard official to four years in prison for neglecting his duty to safely evacuate passengers in the sinking of the ferry Sewol last Apri. The disaster claimed more than 300 lives, most of them teenagers on a school trip.

The court found that Kim Kyoung-il, the captain of a 100-ton rescue boat and in charge of leading the rescue operation at the scene, failed to take proper measures to remedy the situation.

He was found to have lied to reporters afterward, saying he made announcements telling passengers to evacuate and also fabricated work reports in a similar manner, reports the Yonhap news agency.

"Kim simply asked his subordinates to rescue those who were readily visible and failed to evacuate hundreds inside," the news agency reports Judge Lim Jeong-yeop as saying in the ruling.

The judge said he took into consideration the fact Kim's responsibility was less grave than that of the ferry's owner, who overloaded the ship and made structural changes that made it easier for the vessel to capsize

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