First day of trial after a deadly accident
More than 90 family members attended the trial of the 15 crew members from the Sewol ferry, CNN reports, which capsized in April, killing almost 300 people. One relative held up a sign that read “You are not human. You are beneath animals,” and another shouted “Murderer!” at the sight of Captain Lee Joon-seok, who is charged with homicide alongside three other crew members. The remaining crew members face charges related to abandoning the ship and safety violations.
“It’s been two months since the accident. … There’s a saying that when time passes the scar heals but for us time has stopped,” a representative of the families said in court, CNN reports. “When I still see students wearing school uniforms I feel like my child will come back home and say ‘Dad, I’m home.’”
Most of the passengers who died when the ferry capsized en route to the resort island of Jeju on April 16 were high school students going on a class trip; 292 bodies have been recovered thus far, and 12 passengers are still missing.
Some family members were standing outside the court waiting for the bus bringing the defendants, Reuters reports. Some asked to see the defendants’ faces in the courtroom, CNN reports.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye has called the crew’s actions “unforgivable” and “murderous.” The captain’s lawyer, Lee Kwang-jae, said in his opening statement that the captain could not have prevented the overloading of the ferry.
“It wasn’t like he had a grudge against the children so it’s difficult to accept the prosecution’s argument that he willfully neglected the duty of rescue and escaped to save himself,” Lee said.