Sewol trial: Ferry boss sentenced to 10 years in prison

Ferry was overloaded and illegal redesigns to boost capacity had made it unstable

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The Independent Online

The boss of the company that operated the South Korean ferry that sank earlier this year killing more than 300 people has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Kim Han-Sik, chief executive of Chonghaejin Marine, was convicted of negligence causing death and embezzlement over his role in the country's worst maritime disaster in decades.

A South Korean court found Kim routinely allowed the ferry to be overloaded, carrying more passengers than permitted, and signed off illegal renovations to increase its passenger capacity.

An investigation concluded the vessel was defective, the ferry was overloaded and renovations had made the structure of the ferry unstable.

Kim repeatedly denied he was responsible, arguing he was a mere employee following orders from company owner Yoo Byung-Eun, who was found dead in June after he went missing shortly the ferry disaster took place in April.


The Sewol ferry capsized as it made a turn on a routine voyage to the holiday island of Jeju, killing 304 passengers, mostly teenagers aged 16 to 17 on a school trip.

The 15 surviving crew members, including captain Lee Joon-seok, were convicted last week on negligence charges and sentenced to between five and 36 years in jail.  Prosecutors had called for the death penalty for Lee, but he was acquitted on that charge after a judge ruled his negligence did not amount to an intent to kill.