S. Korean Supreme Court upholds prison sentence for Sewol ferry operator boss

The South Korean Supreme Court has upheld the verdict against the head of Sewol ferry operator Kim Han-Sik, who has been sentenced to seven years of prison on the grounds of manslaughter and embezzlement charges.

The CEO of Chonghaejin Marine Co was sentenced to seven years by a South Korean appeals court in May, which reduced his sentence from ten to seven years as his actions were directed by the company’s owner Yoo Byung-Eun who was found dead in July, last year.

Four other Chonghaejin officials were sentenced to two-and-a-half to four years in prison on similar charges.

Kim was sentenced for allowing the ferry to be routinely overloaded and illegally remodeling to increase its cargo load, which eventually lead to the ferry’s doom in April 2014, when the ferry sank killing over 300 people, mostly high school students.

295 bodies have been recovered from the wreck, with nine people still missing and believed to had been trapped in the vessel’s wreck.

Salvage experts of the consortium of companies led by China’s state-run Shanghai Salvage Co started the inspection of the sunken Sewol ferry at the end of August.

Shanghai Salvage plans to use two 10,000 ton cranes and around 200 workers to lift the ferry, including around 100 divers.

According to the said official, there are also plans to place a net around the Sewol to prevent any bodies still trapped inside from being lost in the salvage process.

The key salvage activities are set for March, the ultimate goal being raising the wreck to the surface in one piece by July.

This is the first time a 6,700 -ton ferry is being salvaged as a whole instead of being cut into several pieces as there are fears it may affect the recovery of the missing bodies.

The families of the missing victims believe that the posthumous remains of the missing persons may still be trapped in the sunken wreck. 

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