The captain who abandoned his sinking ferry which caused the death of more than 300 people has been sentenced to 36 years in prison.
Lee Joon-seok, who was captaining the Sewol ferry which capsized off the coast of South Korea in April this year, was found guilty of professional negligence and abandoning his passengers.
Gwangju District Court heard how the actions of the captain and his 15 strong navigational crew, all of whom escaped the ship, contributed to the high number of deaths.
The chief engineer of the ship received 30 years and 13 other crew members were sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. Lee reportedly apologised to the families of the dead passengers, saying: ‘I’m really sorry and deeply ashamed. I don’t know what to say.’
He added that he did not know his actions would lead to so many deaths.
Out of 476 passengers on the ship only 172 were rescued. Many of those who perished where teenage students on a school trip.
The disaster was one of the deadliest South Korea has seen in decades, and has sparked much anger towards Captaining Lee Joon-seok and his crew.
Despite many months of search operations, in which two civilian divers died, nine bodies are still missing from the disaster.
A few weeks after the accident the vice principal who escaped the accident but whose pupils died was founded hanging from a tree in a suspected suicide.