The captain and crew members in charge of navigating the sunken ferry Sewol stood trial today for their alleged role in the deadly tragedy that left more than 300 people dead or missing.
The trial of captain Lee Joon-seok and 14 other crew began at 2 p.m. at Gwangju District Court in the country’s southern city of Gwangju.
The 69-year-old skipper and three crew members have been charged with murder, prosecutors said. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.
The other 11 crew members have been indicted on charges of abandonment and violating a ship safety act, they added.
Prosecutors allege that the sailors left the ship as it was sinking while telling passengers to stay where they were inside the cabins. The sailors were among the first to be rescued by Coast Guard personnel sent to the accident site.
Relatives of those who died arrived at the court in buses to watch the court proceedings.
Today’s hearing will mostly involve the defendants pleading guilty or not guilty to the charges brought against them, a court official said.
The crew members are being defended by state-appointed lawyers as their previous lawyers all resigned, the official added.
Source: Busan eFM News