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HK ferry crash captain sentenced to eight years in prison

HK ferry crash captain sentenced to eight years in prison

A Hong Kong High Court has handed down an eight year jail sentence to the captain of one of the ferries in the deadly ferry collision over two years ago.

Lai Sai-ming, captain of the Sea Smooth ferry which collided with another ferry that sank off Lamma Island on 1 October 2012, was guilty of 39 counts of manslaughter for all the lives lost and endangering the safety of others at sea.

While Chow Chi-wai, captain of Hongkong Electric's Lamma IV, the other vessel involved in the collision, was acquitted of manslaughter but found guilty of endangering the safety of others at sea.

The maximum penalty for manslaughter is life in prison. The endangering safety charge comes with a fine of HKD200,000 and a maximum prison term of four years. Sentencing is due later today by the presiding judge Justice Brian Keith.

During the trial, Chow and Lai blamed each other for causing the collision. The prosecution team accused the two mariners of being "grossly negligent" in their navigation, which contributed to the deaths.

Meanwhile, Chow's legal team tried to prove that his continuous efforts to avert the collision were negated by the Sea Smooth. Lai's lawyers argued that a missing watertight door could be the cause of the Lamma IV's rapid sinking. The pair's lawyers said that they had not decided whether to appeal.

A Department of Justice spokesman said that it would study the verdicts before deciding on further action.

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