South Korean prosecutors have asked for a death sentence for Lee Joon-seok, captain of the Sewol ferry that capsized in April 2014, claiming lives of 294 passengers, mainly high school students, with 10 still missing, Reuters reports.
The 68-year-old should be sentenced to death on the grounds of failing to carry out his duty, an action which amounts to homicide, the prosecutors told the court.
The court was presented with evidence that passengers followed the orders and waited in their cabins while the crew, Lee included, fled the listing ferry, which spurred a wave of public anger and hostility.
15 crew members are charged with abandoning the ship, four out of which are facing homicide charges, while others are charged with less serious offences, including negligence.
The verdict is expected to be announced in November.
“Lee supplied the cause of the sinking of the Sewol … he has the heaviest responsibility for the accident,” the lead prosecutor in the case, Park Jae-eok, told the court.
“We ask that the court sentence him to death.”
Other three crew members charged with homicide should get life sentences, while other 11 should get prison sentences spanning from 15 to 30 years, according to the prosecution.
The defense lawyers, mostly state-appointed, argued that the defendants handled the disaster badly due to their insufficient training, saying that they believed it was the responsibility of the coast guard to rescue the passengers.
World Maritime News Staff