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S. Korean Opposition Begins Sit-in to Protest 'Sewol' Response

  • VOA News

FILE - A family member of passengers aboard the sunken ferry Sewol cries after a pretrial hearing of crew members of the ferry at Gwangju District Court in Gwangju, South Korea, June 10, 2014.

FILE - A family member of passengers aboard the sunken ferry Sewol cries after a pretrial hearing of crew members of the ferry at Gwangju District Court in Gwangju, South Korea, June 10, 2014.

Opposition lawmakers in South Korea have begun a sit-in to protest what they view as the government's insufficient response to April's deadly ferry disaster.

Carrying makeshift beds, members of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy on Tuesday entered into a conference room at the National Assembly for what they said would be an indefinite protest.

The NDAP is in a deadlock with the ruling Saneuri Party over the formation of an independent committee that would investigate those responsible for the sinking of the Sewol, in which over 300 people died.

The opposition group is pushing for victims' family members to have a greater say in the process. It also supports the family members' call for the committee to be given more investigative powers.

Many of the victims' families accuse the ruling party of trying to protect officials who they say are to blame for the incompetence and lack of regulations thought to have led to the disaster.

The family members last week rejected a bipartisan deal that would have formed the investigative committee. The deadlock has brought all work in parliament to a stop.

Fifteen crew members of the Sewol ferry are currently standing trial on charges ranging from murder to negligence for abandoning the ship. Some crew members, including the captain, face possible death sentences if convicted.

The Sewol capsized and sank April 16. Most of the victims were high school students on a field trip from Incheon to the popular resort island of Jeju. It was one of South Korea's deadliest disasters in decades.

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