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South Korea court jails captain of doomed ferry for 36 years for negligence

Lee Joon-seok, captain of sunken ferry Sewol, was sentenced to 36 years in jail

A South Korean court on Tuesday found the captain of a ferry that capsized in April killing more than 300 passengers guilty of negligence and sentenced him to 36 years in jail, but acquitted him of the homicide charge for which prosecutors had sought the death penalty.

The ship’s chief engineer was found guilty of homicide for not aiding two injured fellow crew members and sentenced him to 30 years in prison.

The overloaded ferry Sewol had capsized while making a turn on a routine voyage to the holiday island of Jeju.

Video footage of the crew abandoning the vessel after instructing the passengers, mostly teenagers, to remain in their cabins caused outrage across South Korea and calls for harsh punishment.

The court found all the remaining 13 surviving crew members guilty of various charges, including negligence, and handed down prison terms ranging from five to 20 years.

Anger and grief gripped the nation after its worst maritime disaster in decades, and President Park Geun-hye’s government was heavily criticized for what was seen as a botched rescue operation.

Only 172 of the ferry’s 476 passengers and crew were rescued. Of the 304 confirmed dead or still listed as missing, 250 were school children.

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