South Korean President Park Geun-hye says the captain and some crew members of the sunken ferry committed ‘unforgivable, murderous acts’ in the disaster, which left more than 300 people dead or missing.
She made the comments Monday at a Cabinet briefing. The captain initially told passengers to stay in their rooms and waited more than half an hour to issue an evacuation order as the ferry Sewol sank Wednesday. By then the ship had tilted so much that many of the roughly 240 people missing are believed to be trapped inside.
Park says the captain and crew “told the passengers to stay put but they themselves became the first to escape, after deserting the passengers.” She says that “legally and ethically, this is an unimaginable act.”
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Meanwhile, a South Korean prosecutor says four more crew members from a sunken ferry have been detained on allegations of failing to protect passengers.
Senior prosecutor Ahn Sang-don told reporters on Monday that two first mates, one second mate and a chief engineer are also accused of abandoning the ship.
Ahn says prosecutors are considering whether to ask a court for a formal arrest warrant that would allow for a longer period of investigation. South Koreans can only be detained for 48 hours without a court-issued formal arrest warrant.
The ferry’s captain and two other crew members were previously formally arrested on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need.
Sixty-four bodies have been recovered, and about 240 people are still missing.