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Sewol master jailed for 36 years, escapes death penalty

Sewol master jailed for 36 years, escapes death penalty

The captain of the capsized South Korean ferry Sewol has been sentenced to 36 years in jail, escaping the death penalty.

Lee Joon-Seok was found guilty of gross negligence after the Sewol sank and of the 476 onboard 304 drowned, some 250 of them school children. He was, however, acquitted of a charge of homicide.

"We find it hard to conclude that the defendants were aware that all of the victims would die because of their actions and they had an intention to kill them," the court said. "Therefore the murder charges are not accepted." 

Prosecutors had been seeking the death penalty for the charge of murder.

As well as the master the chief engineer of the ferry was jailed for 30 years, while 13 other crew members were given jail sentences of up to 20 years.

The capsizing of the ferry in April sparked national grief and outrage. A total of 295 bodies have been recovered from the wreck but nine remain missing, with the search having just been called off.

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