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Ferry Operator Gets 10 Years in Jail for ‘Sewol’ Disaster

  • VOA News

FILE - A man ties a yellow ribbon dedicated to victims onboard the sunken ferry Sewol, on a cable at Seoul City Hall Plaza, in Seoul.

FILE - A man ties a yellow ribbon dedicated to victims onboard the sunken ferry Sewol, on a cable at Seoul City Hall Plaza, in Seoul.

A South Korean court has given a ten-year jail sentence to the head of the company that operated the ferry that capsized in April, killing over 300 people.

Chonghaejin Marine CEO Kim Han-sik was found guilty Thursday of negligence for allowing the Sewol ferry to be overloaded with improperly stored cargo.

The 6,800-ton ferry, which officials say was top-heavy, capsized while making a routine turn, killing 304 people, mostly students on a school outing.

The 71-year-old Kim denied the charges, saying the responsibility for the disaster lies with his boss, whose decomposed body was found in June.

Investigators could not determine the cause of death of Chonghaejin Marine owner Yoo Byung-eun, who was the subject of a weeks-long manhunt.

The court found Kim guilty of diverting $2.6 million over the past four years to Yoo. Several other employees were also found guilty of embezzlement.

The disaster, South Korea's worst in decades, prompted public outrage at the owners, as well as the government for lax safety standards and an unsuccessful rescue operation.

Last week, the court in Gwangju sentenced the Sewol's captain and 15 other crew from five to 36 years in prison for abandoning the vessel.

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