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June 13, 2014, 02:24:32 PM
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Offline Peter

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The Trial of the Sewol 15
« on: June 13, 2014, 02:24:32 PM »
Tuesday, July 10: Shout of 'murderer' goes up in packed court as Korea ferry crew face trial
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Fifteen crew of a South Korean ferry that sank in April killing more than 300 people, most of them children, went on trial on Tuesday on charges ranging from negligence to homicide, with the shout going up of "murderer" as the captain entered the court.

Captain Lee Joon-seok, 68, and three senior crew members were charged with homicide, facing a maximum sentence of death. Two were charged with fleeing and abandoning ship that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Nine were charged with negligence, which can also carry jail terms.
According to earlier reports, the most serious charge brought against the captain and senior crew members is a form of manslaughter as opposed to homicide:
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The exact charge prosecutors brought against Lee Jun-seok, the 69-year-old captain, and the three other crew members is manslaughter by omission. One can be liable for this crime when the fault lies in a failure to foresee and allow otherwise avoidable dangers to occur by a defendant responsible for preventing such dangers.

If convicted, the four can be sentenced to life in prison.
Since most articles now are using terms like homicide and murder with mention of a possible death sentence, I think we can assume that the most serious charge is in fact murder. The article from the first day of proceedings continues:
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The lawyer for the captain, in an opening statement, said his client had no power to stop the ferry company's practice of overloading the vessel with cargo.

... The lawyer, Lee Kwang-jae, also said the captain had not meant to cause the accident, and there were therefore no grounds for the homicide charge.

"It wasn't like he had a grudge against the children so it's difficult to accept the prosecution's argument that he wilfully neglected the duty of rescue and escaped to save himself," Lee told the court. ...

First Trial of Sewol Crew: Crew Members Denied All Charges Including "Murder"
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Most of the crew of the ferry, Sewol including the captain Yi Jun-seok (68) charged for the deaths of 292 passengers denied their charges on the first day of trial.

Yi and the other crew members did not accept the prosecution’s charges which claimed that neglecting the passengers and abandoning the ship first was murder, in a trial of the fifteen Sewol crew held before Criminal Department 11 (Chief Judge Im Jeong-yeop) at the Gwangju District Court on June 10.

Earlier prosecutors indicted captain Yi, first mate Gang (42), second mate Kim (46), and chief engineer Bak (53) for murder and attempted murder. The other eleven including third mate Bak (25) and helmsman Jo (55) stood trial on charges of death by neglect.

During the trial, the prosecutors said, "The defendants were obligated to save lives, and they could have carried out that obligation, but they did not, knowing that there was a possibility that the passengers could die. Thus this establishes grounds for murder by nonfeasance."

Captain Yi and the other crew members argued through their lawyer who said, "The prosecutors’ claims that the crew escaped without taking actions to rescue the passengers thinking that it was alright for the passengers to die is difficult to accept based on the various situations and common sense."

This day in court, a hundred family members of the victims came out to witness the trial. The bench closed the trial this day after listening to the statements of the eleven of the fifteen crew members on whether they accepted the charges. The remaining four will make their statements on the second day of trial on June 17.
Other articles about the first day of proceedings:
Trial of Sewol crew starts with tears and curses
Murder trial for Sewol crewmen begins
Trial opens for captain and crew of sunken ferry Sewol
Trial for Sewol-ho ferry crew members begins (Video report)

June 17, 2014, 10:40:05 PM
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Offline Peter

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Re: The Trial of the Sewol 15
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2014, 10:40:05 PM »
June 17, 2014: Trial of sunken Sewol-ho ferry crew continues (Video report)
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The 15 crew members of the sunken Sewol-ho ferry were back in court on Tuesday to answer to the charges against them and claimed that it wasn't up to them to save passengers in the sinking ship, but rather the coast guard.

The defense attorneys for the accused, who face charges ranging from homicide to negligence, said that once the coast guard arrived on the scene, the crew's job was done.

The captain of the vessel, Lee Joon-seok, and three of his senior crew, face charges of homicide by willful negligence and are looking at a possible sentence of the death penalty.
Accused South Korea ferry crew say rescue was coastguard's job
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The surviving crew of a South Korean ferry that sank in April killing more than 300 people and sparking a nationwide outpouring of grief argued on Tuesday that it was up to the coastguard to rescue the passengers, not them.

Lawyers for the 15, who face charges ranging from homicide to negligence, said that once coastguard rescuers had reached the sharply listing vessel, the crew's job was over.

"The crew share the belief that they thought the coastguard should be fully capable of the rescue because there was a distress call and they arrived and they were the ones with professional skills and equipment," lawyer Im Ju-young told the court on the second day of the trial in Gwangju, the closest city to the scene of the disaster. ...

Crew members, including the captain, were caught on video abandoning ship while the children stayed in their cabins as told, wearing life jackets and awaiting further orders.

Im represents three crew members, including one charged with homicide. The court granted a defence request to call coastguard officials who first reached the sinking Sewol as witnesses. ...

June 18, 2014, 06:33:35 PM
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Re: The Trial of the Sewol 15
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2014, 06:33:35 PM »
June 18, 2014: Only 1 Ferry Crewmember Pleads Guilty
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Only one out of 15 crewmembers of the ferry Sewol charged with abandoning around 400 passengers trapped on the sinking vessel has pleaded guilty.

The man was the chief engineer, surnamed Sohn. His lawyer said in a trial involving four of the 15 on Tuesday that Sohn "will not use the excuse of saying that he could not rescue passengers as the ship sharply tilted to one side quickly."

He also declined to plead innocence because the ferry's captain did not issue orders to rescue the passengers.

But the lawyer pleaded for mercy, saying Sohn suffered from profound guilt and depression and tried to kill himself in the aftermath of the April 16 disaster.

He blamed the greed of ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine, which pushed ahead with the remodeling of the ship in order to carry more cargo and ignored safety rules, and negligence of those responsible for overseeing it. ...

July 27, 2014, 06:31:21 PM
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Re: The Trial of the Sewol 15
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2014, 06:31:21 PM »
July 25, 2014:Testimony by Survivors and Danwon High School Students, the Key to Revealing the Truth of the Sewol
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A fierce battle on the substantive truth is unfolding in a courtroom where the people related to the ferry accident are being tried. The crew of the Sewol who are standing before the court and most of the people from the ship’s operator argue, “I am not responsible.” Only two out of the twenty-six people have admitted their faults. It appears the court will reach a decision on the sinking of the ferry--which sank into the rough waters off of Jindo along with 304 people including the students of Ansan’s Danwon High School on a school trip to Jeju-do--in about three months from now.

The Gwangju District Court Criminal Department 11 (Chief Judge Im Jeong-yeop) is simultaneously proceeding with the trials of the fifteen crew members who escaped neglecting the passengers and of the eleven people from Cheonghaejin Marine Company, the Korea Shipping Association, and Union Transport Co.

The fifteen crew members including Captain Lee Joon-seok (Yi Jun-seok, 68) are denying most of the allegations. The suspects entered the court according to their positions on board the Sewol, with the captain in front, followed by those navigating the ship, those on deck and those in charge of the engine, but they were all busy putting the blame on each other. Captain Lee and first mate Gang (42) who are being charged for murder and second mate Kim (46) and chief engineer Bak (53) all just acknowledged “minor mistakes.”

Captain Lee claimed, “We conducted rescue measures such as an onboard broadcast instructing the passengers to evacuate the ship. We could not rescue the passengers because the ship had tilted and it was impossible to move around the ship. Rescuing the passengers is the responsibility of the Coast Guard.” First mate Gang and second mate Kim blamed the captain respectively arguing, “I have no authority to make commands and with the captain present, I cannot take the matter into my own hands,” and that “I cannot act without orders from the captain.”

First engineer Sohn (57), who had attempted suicide during the investigation, is the only person among the crew members to have acknowledged all the charges.

The navigation manager at Incheon Harbor, the employees of the cargo shipping company and Cheonghaejin Marine Company, which turned the Sewol into a ticking time bomb, continue to deny responsibility. Kim Han-sik (71), CEO of Cheonghaejin Marine Company even reversed some of his statement which he had made before the prosecutors. Representatives for Kim said, “The Sewol sank due to other causes. We deny allegations that Kim received orders about the Sewol from former Semo Group Chairman Yoo Byeong-eon and that Kim also reported to Yoo about the ship.” However, they did not specifically present the “other causes” of the accident. Kim had originally stated, “We introduced the Sewol at the orders of former Chairman Yoo Byeong-eon and created a showroom when extending the ship. I also reported plans to sell the ship last January because there was a problem in the Sewol’s stability.”

Shin (47), the original captain of the Sewol said, “They received orders from Lee Joon-seok, a probationary captain.” Two people from the Korea Shipping Association in charge of the navigation control room at Incheon Harbor, and employees of the cargo shipping company who failed to properly tie the cargo down also argued, “We fulfilled our obligation,” and “We made no errors.” Only Kim (45), an assistant director of the distribution team at Cheonghaejin Marine Company acknowledged his charges.

July 29, 2014, 08:17:01 AM
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Re: The Trial of the Sewol 15
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2014, 08:17:01 AM »
No help from crew, Coast Guard, young Sewol survivors testify
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Six high school students who survived the Sewol disaster in April testified in court on Monday that crew members and Coast Guard officials did not help them as the ferry carrying nearly 500 passengers was sinking.

During a trial held at the Suwon District Court branch in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, the teenagers said they and 30 other students had waited near an emergency exit for a rescue team, but saw no sign of the crew.

They had to climb up to an exit as the ship tilted, holding hands and pushing each other from behind.

“There were 30 students queued up along an aisle toward an emergency exit, waiting to be rescued,” one student said on the witness stand. “With no sign of a rescue team, we jumped into the water one by one. But then a wave swamped the exit and 10 other students couldn’t get out of the ship.”

The Sewol ferry sank off the country’s southwestern coast, leaving more than 300 passengers dead or missing. The victims were mostly high school students on a school trip to Jejudo Island.

The ferry’s captain, Lee Joon-seok, and other 15 crew members were indicted on charges of negligent homicide for leaving 476 passengers behind in order to save themselves.

The hearing on Monday saw the first testimonies of surviving students against the ferry crew. The trials for the captain and crew have been held in Gwangju, a city near the site of the accident.

But the judges decided to hold the hearing in Ansan, as the six students all live in the city and could be too traumatized to visit the area near the accident.

The survivors on the witness stand on Monday urged judges to severely punish the crewmen.

Another student testified that Coast Guard officials remained on their rescue boat even when she told them that there were many people waiting near the emergency exit for help.

“The Coast Guard officials were on the rubber boat within an arm’s length from the ferry, but they only dragged out people who jumped into the waters,” she said. “I told them that there were many friends waiting to be rescued near the exit, but they only stared at them.”

Other students who took the stand as witnesses testified that the crew used the public announcement system to order them to stay in their cabins.

“If they only told us to evacuate, many could have escaped from the (sinking) ferry,” said one student.

More: http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2992700

August 20, 2014, 08:28:41 PM
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Re: The Trial of the Sewol 15
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2014, 08:28:41 PM »
August 18: CCTV footage of sunken Sewol ferry to be shown at court
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A local court said Monday that a recently restored digital video recorder from the sunken ferry Sewol will be played at a closed-door court session this week in an effort to help shed light on what caused the tragedy.

The local branch of the Gwangju District Court said that the video recorder, which has been presumed to contain closed-circuit TV footage inside the ferry, will be played on Friday with bereaved families of the Sewol ferry sinking and their lawyers in attendance.

The Sewol ferry capsized off southwestern South Korea on April 16, leaving more than 300 people, mostly high school students, dead or missing.

The recorder has been recently restored after being submerged for more than two months and will show footage from CCTVs, which had been scattered throughout the vessel, at a closed-court session, officials said. The footage contains recordings for about two days -- the day before the incident and the moments right before the vessel began to sink, according to officials.

In June, the families of the Sewol disaster victims requested that the local court accept the digital video recorder as evidence on the grounds that it would play a critical role in finding the cause of the tragedy. ...

September 07, 2014, 09:34:33 AM
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Re: The Trial of the Sewol 15
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2014, 09:34:33 AM »
September 2, 2014: Crew member of doomed ferry Sewol blames captain
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A crew member of the sunken ferry Sewol blamed the captain Tuesday for abandoning passengers and escaping the ship that went down off the country's southwest coast in mid-April, claiming more than 300 lives.

The first engineer surnamed Sohn, one of the four crew members charged with abandonment and violation of a ship safety act in connection with the deadly sinking, leveled the criticism during a court hearing held at a district court in this southern city.

Asked by a prosecutor whether it was reasonable for captain Lee Joon-seok to have not told the passengers, mostly high school students on a school excursion, to abandon ship, Sohn said Lee had "abandoned his duty."

   The 69-year-old skipper and the four crew members have been charged with murder. 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.

At the hearing, Sohn denied charges brought against him, saying that he "does not remember" the circumstances when the ship began tilting.

Sohn, however, admitted to having had beer with other crew members while awaiting rescue, saying that the drinks were "to calm down the excitement." ...

October 10, 2014, 07:27:21 PM
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Re: The Trial of the Sewol 15
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2014, 07:27:21 PM »
October 8, 2014: Sewol captain admits he 'deserves death penalty' for ferry disaster

The link contains a video report.

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The captain in charge of the Sewol ferry when it sank told a South Korean court Wednesday that he "deserved the death penalty" but denied sacrificing passenger's lives to save his own.

More than 300 people perished, most of them school children in a tragedy that stunned South Korea.

The captain and many crew members were among the first to climb onto rescue boats.

Video footage taken from the phones of those who perished showed increasingly worried students patiently waiting in their bunks as messages were broadcast over the ship's tannoy telling them to stay where they were despite the ferry listing heavily.

But Lee said his passenger evacuation orders had fallen on deaf ears and denied accusations by the prosecution that he sacrificed the lives of his passengers to save himself.

"I sincerely apologise to the victims and their relatives and I will pray for them for the rest of my life", Lee said at his trial, according to Yonhap news agency.

"I think I deserve a death penalty for what I have done. But I never thought for a moment to sacrifice the passengers (to save my own life)".

"No matter how God helps me, I know I won't be able to leave the prison before I die. But I cannot give my children and grandchildren a bad name as a murderer's relatives", Lee added.

He insisted he had told a crew member to broadcast a passenger announcement that passengers should wear life jackets and jump into the sea, around five minutes before the first rescue boat arrived.

View photosSouth Korea ferry disaster
Part of South Korean passenger ship "Sewol" that has been sinking is seen as South Korean  …
The message was never relayed, he added. But Lee he was unable to provide any evidence that he issued this instruction.

- Captain blames ship owners -

The disaster caused outrage in South Korea, knocking the entire country off its stride and triggering widespread public anger as it emerged that incompetence, corruption and greed had all contributed to the tragedy.

Lee has insisted that the ferry owners are the real culprits of the disaster as it was their decision to consistently overload the vessel and commission an illegal redesign.

His murder prosecution comes as the son of the ferry's owner also faces a separate trial for embezzlement.

Prosecutors on Wednesday called for four years in prison for Yoo Dae-Kyun, the eldest son of the now deceased South Korean tycoon blamed for the ferry disaster.

Yoo, 44, who has been charged with syphoning off more than $7 million from Chonghaejin Marine Co., the operator of the stricken ferry, and its six sister companies between 2002 and late last year.

Three other family members -- Yoo's mother and two uncles -- have also been arrested on charges of embezzlement from the business group including Chonghaejin Marine.

Yoo's sister, Yoo Sum-Na, 48, is currently fighting extradition from France on similar charges.

The badly decomposed body of Yoo's father, Yoo Byung-Eun, who in addition to his substantial business interests also ran a religious group, was found in June. He had been the target of a massive manhunt connected to the ferry sinking.

"I am sorry," Yoo said to the court before bowing to the judge, the prosecutors and the audience in turn.

Yoo's defence lawyer has called for leniency in the sentencing, expected on November 5, stressing that Yoo will dispose of all his assets to help compensate for the victims.

Prosecutors are also questioning one of the late Yoo's key aides -- who was repatriated from the US Tuesday -- over assets the Yoo family may be hiding.

Kim Hae-Kyung, 52, who was arrested in Virginia in September, is suspected of involvement in the embezzlement of about $23 million from the religious organisation headed by the elder Yoo.

Lee, 69, and three senior crew members are accused of "homicide through wilful negligence" -- a charge that can carry the death penalty.

October 28, 2014, 06:36:44 PM
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Re: The Trial of the Sewol 15
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2014, 06:36:44 PM »
October 28, 2014: Prosecutors seek death penalty for S. Korean ferry captain
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South Korean prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the captain of the capsized Sewol ferry and life in prison for three other crew members involved in the deadly disaster earlier this year.

The death penalty is unusual in South Korea, which has not carried out executions in 17 years. It hasn't been used in decades, as a backlash to how it was used in the past for political purposes.

Prosecutors charged the captain, Lee Joon-seok, and the three crew members with murder, because prosecutors allege the ferry's crew members didn't use the ship's facilities such as life rafts, life vests and announcements to evacuate passengers. ...

Execution asked for Sewol captain