South Korean court holds government accountable for 2014 Sewol ferry sinking | News | DW | 19.07.2018
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South Korean court holds government accountable for 2014 Sewol ferry sinking

South Korea's government has been ordered to compensate the victims of the 2014 Sewol ferry sinking. It was the first Seoul was found to be liable for the disaster, which killed 304 people, including school children.

A court in South Korea recognized the government's co-responsibility for the first time on Thursday over the Sewol ferry disaster that killed hundreds of passengers, many of whom were students.

Inadequate safety measures on board as well as botched rescue efforts were responsible for the 2014 disaster that killed 304 people.

The Seoul Central District Court ordered the government and the ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine to pay the families 200 million won ($175,000; €151,000) for each victim. They were also ordered to pay additional compensation to the victims' families ranging from 5 million won to 80 million won.

It was not immediately clear whether the ferry operator and the government would appeal the decision.

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Scores of school children killed

The high number of children who died from the Sewol ferry disaster as well as faulty rescue efforts shocked South Korea, with many angry with former President Park Geun-hye and her administration.

Subsequent investigations revealed that the Sewol ferry was structurally unsound, overloaded with passengers and going to fast when it turned and capsized off the country's southwest coast on April 16, 2014.

The crew of the Sewol abandoned the sinking ferry after telling passengers to remain in their cabins, court documents said.

Over two-thirds of the 476 passengers on board the vessel were children on a school trip, many of whom died trapped in their cabins while following the crew's orders.

South Korea's Coast Guard also failed to rescue the passengers and maintain control of the ship, the court said.

The Sewol's captain was found guilty of homicide in 2015 and given a life sentence. Former President Park is currently serving a 24-year jail term on corruption charges and has denied accusations that she failed to react quickly to the disaster.

rs/kms (dpa, Reuters)

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