[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

S Korea ferry captain and crew go on trial

Mourning family members pack court as trial begins of 15 for disaster that killed more than 300 people, mostly children.

Last updated: 10 Jun 2014 15:29
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Fifteen crew members of a South Korean ferry the Sewol that sank in April killing more than 300 people, mostly children, have gone on trial on charges ranging from negligence to homicide.

Mourning family members packed the court on Tuesday in Gwangju, the closest city to the scene of the disaster, as the 15 were led in and seated in two rows of benches.

One relative held up a sign that read: "You are not human. You are beneath animals."

An altercation arose between the relatives and court security guards who tried to take the sign away, Reuters news agency reported. 

"Some of those families want to see a change in Korean law to allow those accused of lesser crimes to be charged with greater sentences", said Al Jazeera correspondent Harry Fawcett, reporting from outside the courtroom.

The 15 have been in detention since their indictments and appear to have been tried and convicted by an angry public even before the trial began.

"Not only do we have this public pressure, we also have these atypical charges of murder, and President Park Geun-hye publicly calling the crew murderers." our correspondent said. 

Most of the Sewol's passengers were children from the same school on a field trip who stayed in their cabins as they were told while surviving crew members, including the captain, were caught on video abandoning ship.

Almost two months after the sinking of the Sewol, 292 bodies have been retrieved and 12 others are listed as missing.

Only 172 people, including 22 of the ship's 29 crew members, survived the April 16 disaster.

The captain and three senior crew members were charged with homicide in May facing a maximum sentence of death.

Two are charged with fleeing and abandoning the ship, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Nine are charged with negligence, that also carries a maximum sentence of jail.

The last execution in South Korea was in 1997. 

313

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.