Monday, 10 November 2014

Captain of sunken S. Korean ferry receives 36 years in prison........

A South Korean court sentenced the captain of the ferry that sunk killing about 300 people in April to 36 years in prison, a Yonhap Agency news report said Tuesday.
Capt. Lee Joon-seok was also acquitted of murder charges which stated he left the passengers behind while the ship was sinking, the report also said.
The chief engineer got 30 years, and 13 other crew members were sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, according to multiple South Korean reports, citing the Gwangju District Court in southern South Korea.
The widely vilified Lee could have received a death sentence for the homicide charges. South Korea hasn't executed anyone since late 1997, though its courts occasionally issue the punishment.
Prosecutors and the crew members have one week to appeal, according to the court.
The 15 crew members tasked with navigating the ferry Sewol have faced scathing public criticism because they escaped the sinking ship while many of their passengers were still trapped inside. A total of 476 people were aboard the ship and only 172 were rescued. Most of the dead were teenage students traveling to a resort island on a school trip.
Nearly seven months after the sinking, 295 bodies have been recovered but nine are still missing. South Korean officials said Tuesday they've ended searches for the missing because there was only a remote chance of finding more bodies while worries have grown over the safety of divers. Two civilian divers have died after falling unconscious during searches.
"As our loved ones remain trapped in the cold waters, this decision is unbearably painful for us. But we requested that the search operations be stopped" because of safety concerns, Min Dong-im, 36, the wife of a missing teacher, tearfully said at a televised news conference.
Many student survivors do not remember hearing evacuation orders being given. Instead, the students were allegedly told to stay on the sinking ship before they helped each other flee.
Earlier Tuesday, South Korean officials ended the search for the nine missing bodies from the ferry sinking.
Oceans and Fisheries Minister Lee Ju-young told a televised news conference that the searches will stop as of Tuesday as there was only a remote chance of finding the missing bodies. "The government's conclusion is that searches by divers have reached its limit," he said.
Lee said cabins in the ferry have collapsed and winter is coming, placing divers in a "very dangerous situation." Lee said family members of the missing people have asked the government to stop the underwater searches.
"As our loved ones remain trapped in the cold waters, this decision is unbearably painful for us. But we request that the search operations to be stopped from now" because of safety concerns, a relative of one of the missing tearfully told a separate news conference Tuesday, according to report from the YTN television station.
Two civilian divers died after falling unconscious during searches, according to Lee's ministry. Lee said he feels sorry for failing to keep a government promise to find all the missing bodies.