Korean ferry captain says he deserves death penalty

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The captain of the South Korean ferry that sank in April, killing more than 300 people, told a court that he “deserved the death penalty,” but denied sacrificing passengers’ lives to save his own.

“I sincerely apologize to the victims and their relatives and I will pray for them for the rest of my life,” Capt Lee Joon-seok, 69, said at his trial, according to a report by the Australian News.com.au. “No matter how God helps me, I know I won’t be able to leave the prison before I die.”

He insisted he had told a crewmember to broadcast a passenger announcement that passengers should wear life jackets and jump into the sea about five minutes before the first rescue boat arrived. The message was not relayed, he added.

Lee was unable to provide any evidence that he issued the instruction. He and three senior crewmembers are accused of “homicide through willful negligence” — a charge that can carry the death penalty.