Life sentence confirmed for captain of sunken South Korean ferry

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The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea last year saw his life sentence upheld Thursday for the murder of 304 passengers who drowned.

Lee Jun Seol, 70, deliberately neglected his duty to evacuate passengers when the Sewol went down on April 16, 2014, the Supreme Court ruled, upholding the earlier verdict by a lower court.

The captain “could have easily informed the passengers of the urgent situation” as the ship was sinking, but instead “fled the ferry without doing so,” Chief Justice Yang Seung Tae was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.

Lee told passengers to stay in their cabins while he was one of the first to be rescued. Even then, “he did not provide information on the situation onboard to the Coast Guard, being totally indifferent to the passengers’ safety,” Yang said.

Lee was first sentenced to 36 years in prison for gross negligence and dereliction of duty. The prosecution appealed, and an appeals court in April gave him life for murder.

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