Nautilus criticises South Korean court's decision to sentence Sewol ferry captain
Maritime union Nautilus International has criticised the decision of South Korean court to sentence the Sewol ferry captain to life in prison.
An appeals court sentenced Lee Joon-seok, who is in his 70s, to 36 years in prison after ruling that he was guilty of homicide.
In November last year, the captain was also found guilty of gross negligence and sentenced to similar years in jail by another South Korean court.
Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said: "Once again, a captain has been made the scapegoat as a result of political pressure and media misrepresentation.
"Pinning the blame on an individual in this way helps to obscure the underlying causes of the accident, including regulatory failure, overloading and design changes."
The South Korean ferry capsized in April 2014, leaving more than 304 people dead, mostly school pupils.
Investigators later found that the company had allowed the ferry to be overloaded with cargo, which led to the accident.
Dickinson added: "It is the law-makers that determine the actions of owners and set the levels of safety.
"It should not be masters that suffer for their failure."
The ferry captain was among the 15 accused of abandoning the ferry at the time of the incident.
Meanwhile, prosecutors argued with the Gwangju court that Lee deserves the death penalty, saying that his irresponsibility led to high number of deaths, BBC News reported.
Lee had earlier apologised for abandoning passengers.
Image: Nautilus argued that the ferry captain has been made the scapegoat as a result of political pressure and media misrepresentation. Photo: © Nautilus International.