Sewol Crew Shifts Blame on Coast Guard

The Sewol crew members who managed to got away from the sinking ferry that took the toll of around 300 people in April, mostly high school students and school teachers, refused to assume legal responsibility for the passengers’ death, writes Reuters.

Once the distress signal from the ferry was sent and the Coast Guard crew were on the scene it was up to them to rescue the passengers, the defence lawyer of the crew Im Ju-young  said Tuesday, the second day of the trial in Gwangju.

Three of the fifteen crew members, one of them being the captain, are facing death penalty having been charged with “homicide through wilful negligence”.

The fact is that the Coast Guard had been severely criticized for their slow arrival on the scene and failure to rescue more people. However, maritime lawyers claim that the defence strategy of the state-appointed team of lawyers will not hold water as the crew was captured on video fleeing the vessel, leaving behind children who were told to stay in their cabins.

The ferry is believed to have sunk due to overloading, which, according to the captain, he could not prevent.

The ferry was carrying around 475 people, including 325 students from a high school in Ansan, just south of Seoul, when it sent out a distress signal on April 16th at 8:58 a.m. in waters 20 kilometers off the island of Byeongpoong.

The owner of the ill-fated ferry Yoo Byung-eun remains on the run. The authorities are still searching for the owner, suspected of embezzlement,  which among many other things, caused faulty safety management onboard the operator’s vessels.

World Maritime News Staff, June 18, 2014, Image: Wikimedia


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