South Korea: Chief of Sewol ferry firm given ten year prison sentence

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23 November 2014

Chief of Ferry Company in South Korea Is Given 10-Year Jail Sentence

Author: Choe Sang-Hun, New York Times

The head of the company whose ferry sank in April, killing more than 300 people in one of South Korea’s worst disasters in decades, was convicted on Thursday of accidental homicide and embezzlement and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Kim Han-sik, 71, the chief executive of the Chonghaejin Marine Company, was among 11 officials from the ferry operator; a cargo company, Union Transport; and the port inspector, the Korea Shipping Association, who were on trial in Gwangju District Court for their roles in the disaster. All but one were convicted of accidental homicide and other criminal charges, according to a statement from the court in Gwangju, a city in southwestern South Korea. Seven were sentenced to two to six years in prison. Two others were given suspended prison terms. Another official, a senior ship inspector, was acquitted of obstruction of justice, the only charge he had faced. ... On its last voyage, the Sewol was carrying twice as much cargo as legally allowed, according to court documents. The ship’s crew had reduced the amount of ballast water it carried at its bottom for stability so that it could accommodate the excess cargo, investigators said. “The defendants had known that the ship was unstable and that if it sank, it was highly likely that passengers would die or get injured,” said the court statement explaining the verdicts. Two weeks ago, another South Korean court sentenced Yoo Dae-kyoon, the eldest son of Yoo Byung-eun, a business mogul who controlled a fleet of companies, including Chonghaejin Marine, to three years in prison for embezzlement. The authorities accused members of the Yoo family of stealing the equivalent of millions of dollars from the ferry company, money they said could have been used for safety measures that were not put in place on the Sewol. The senior Mr. Yoo was found dead in July while on the run from criminal charges. ...

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Article
23 November 2014

South Korea: Chief of Sewol firm gets 10 years

Author: Kim Yon-Se, Korea Herald

A district court on Thursday handed down a prison term of 10 years to Kim Han-shik, chief of Chonghaejin Marine Co., the operator of the sunken ferry Sewol, for neglecting the safety of the vessel. Eight other officials of the marine company were given prison sentences ranging from three to six years, and two officials were handed suspended jail terms, the Gwangju District Court said. They included the executive in charge of maritime affairs, surnamed Ahn, who was given six years in prison with a criminal fine of 55 million won ($50,000) and the executive director, surnamed Kim, who was sentenced to five years in prison. The court said in its verdict that that chief Kim, 72, had glossed over the risks of overloading the Sewol with freight early this year. It also said that Kim was informed of the ferry’s weakened ability to recover left-and-right balance when it tilted due to an expansion in the number of cabins several years ago. The verdict also said that Kim had caused financial damages to the company via embezzlement and breach of trust, and handed over the irregular gains to Yoo Byung-eun, who was found dead in June. Yoo was the de facto owner of Chonghaejin Marine and the Sewol. ... 

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