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CEO of South Korean sunken ferry Sewol operator arrested

May 08, 2014, 9:48 UTC+3
Head of Chonghaejin Marine company, Kim Han-Sik, has been arrested in his house in Seoul’s suburbs and brought for interrogation
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Kim Han-sik (C), president of the Chonghaejin Marine Co., enters the Incheon District Prosecutors' Office in Incheon, west of Seoul, South Korea to face questioning on criminal charges related to the ferry disaster

Kim Han-sik (C), president of the Chonghaejin Marine Co., enters the Incheon District Prosecutors' Office in Incheon, west of Seoul, South Korea to face questioning on criminal charges related to the ferry disaster

© EPA/YONHAP

SEOUL, May 8. /ITAR-TASS/. The Prosecutor’s Office of South Korea has arrested the CEO of the operator of sunken Sewol ferry on May 8. This was made amid the extension of investigative actions after the tragedy that claimed lives of 269, as latest reports say. This was reported by representatives of a joint group of police officers and prosecutors.

Accusations against company’s CEO

The head of Chonghaejin Marine company Kim Han-Sik has been arrested in his house in the capital’s suburb Pundan and brought for interrogation.

“A number of charges is brought against him, including involuntary manslaughter and violation of the law on safety of navigation,” the official representative of the joint group said.

Kim Han-Sik is known as a close aid of South Korean billionaire Yu Beun Ung, whom the investigation believes to be the real owner of Chonghaejin Marine and a number of its subsidiaries.

Crewmembers face charges

In the course of the investigation of the circumstances of the accident it has been discovered that the crewmembers including the ferry’s captain were among the first to leave the ship. In addition, it became known that the crew being aware of the critical situation did not order to start the evacuation of passengers until the last moment. The Prosecutor’s General Office stated that captain of the sunken ferry Sewol Lee Joon Seok, third mate and helmsman could face charges of homicide.

Prime Minister resigns

April 27, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won offered his resignation, holding himself responsible for the government’s poor response to the deadly sinking of the Sewol ferry that has left nearly 300 people dead or missing. “The right thing for me to do is to take responsibility and resign,” Chung told a news conference, 11 days after the accident that is one of the country's worst maritime disasters.

President Park Geun-hye said she would accept Chung’s resignation only after the rescue operation at the sight of Sewol’s crash is completed.

How the ferry sank

South Korean Sewol passenger ferry with 6,825 tonnage was travelling from the port of Incheon to the island of Jeju. The ship sank on April 16 to the south-west off of the Korean peninsula. A total of 476 people were onboard. Most of the passengers, 325, were schoolchildren from the city of Ansan. The ferry captain, along with most of the crew, was among 172 survivors of the tragedy. 269 people died and another 35 a reported missing.

According to preliminary investigation results, about 90% of the victims had life vests on them. “235 out of 269 victims, whose bodies were found during the first stage of the search and rescue operation, had life vests on them,” Coast guard chief Kim Suk-kyoon said.

Yonhap news agency said that more passengers could have survived if the ship’s crew and rescuers reacted timely.

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