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Captain of doomed Korean ferry gets life in prison

/ 11:43 AM April 28, 2015
Sewol Skipper

Lee Joon-seok, captain of the ill-fated Sewol, listens during deliberations in court in South Korea. AP

SEOUL, South Korea— A South Korean appellate court on Tuesday handed down a sentence of life in prison to the captain of a ferry that sank last year, killing more than 300 people.

The sentencing is harsher than a November verdict by a district court that sentenced Lee Joon-seok, skipper of the Sewol, to 36 years in prison for negligence and abandoning passengers in need.

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Lee’s sentence was increased because the Gwangju High Court convicted him on homicide charges, according to court spokesman Jeon Ilho. In the November ruling, Lee was acquitted of homicide.

The appellate court sentenced 14 other navigation crew members to 18 months to 12 years in prison, Jeon said. In November they had received sentences of five to 30 years in prison.

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Jeon said both prosecutors and the crew members have one week to appeal the verdicts.

Most of the victims were teenagers traveling to a southern island for a school trip. A total of 295 bodies have been retrieved but nine others are missing.

Last week, South Korea formally announced it would salvage the ship from the ocean floor off the country’s southwest coast.

Relatives of the victims hope the ship’s salvaging might locate the missing, including four students, and help reveal more details about the sinking. Some experts are skeptical about those wishes.

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TAGS: Korean ferry, Life in prison, Maritime accident, Sewol
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