South Korean President Park Geun-hye has said that some of the crew of the Sewol ferry would face ‘criminal and civil’ charges for their conduct that led to the deaths of at least 108 people and to a further 194 being missing.
Park released a presidential statement calling the conduct of the crew as ‘akin to murder’, and that the actions of the captain and some of the crew ‘were utterly incomprehensible, unacceptable and tantamount to murder.’
“The captain did not comply with passenger evacuation orders from the vessel traffic service… and escaped ahead of others while telling passengers to keep their seats. This is something that is never imaginable legally or ethically,” Park said.
The 146m long South Korean passenger ferry, Sewol, capsized off the south-west coast on 16 April as it took a journey from Incheon in the north-west to the southern island of Jeju.
Sewol was carrying 477 people at the time of the incident, including 338 students and teachers from the Danwon high school in Ansan, Seoul, who were on a field trip to Jeju Island. In addition to passengers, the ferry was carrying 150 vehicles.
The South Korean Government has faced huge criticism for the incident, which is currently under investigation as to whether the vessel took too sharp a turn before capsizing.
As part of the investigations, the government has detained four more crew members, while the captain and two other crew members are accused of negligence of duty and maritime law violations.
The investigators have banned Chonghaejin Marine, the head of ferry operator, and its largest shareholder from exiting the country, reported Yonhap news agency.
Image: Sewol at the Port of Incheon. Photo: courtesy of jinjoo2713.