The captain of the Sewol, the ferry that capsized and killed 304 people, many of them students, has been sentenced to 36 years in prison. The punishment for the April calamity drew shouts and sharp criticism from victims’ family members in the courtroom; many had urged a death sentence.
Prosecutors had reportedly sought the death penalty for the captain, Lee Joon-seok, citing the charge of homicide that stood against him. He was acquitted of that charge Tuesday. Lee, 69, has apologized for his actions, which included abandoning the doomed vessel as it listed severely to one side – and as some crew members struggled to get passengers off the ship.
Reuters reports on the scene in the courtroom Tuesday:
” ‘Judge, this is not right,’ a woman screamed in anguish as some of the other family members broke down in tears.
” ‘Is this how little the lives of our children were worth?’ another said. ‘The death sentence is not enough for the crew.’ ”