PSPD in English Sewol Ferry Tragedy 2014-05-16   2227

[Commentary] The investigation into Sewol-ho ferry sailors should not be tail-cropping

The investigation into Sewol-ho ferry sailors should not be tail-cropping.  


Enactment of a special law for the investigation and punishment should be prepared.



(16 May 2014, Seoul) Yesterday, May 15th, 2014, State Prosecutors announced an interim report on the Sewol-ho ferry disaster investigation indicting 15 sailors including prosecuting the ferry captain Lee Joon-seok and three crew members for murder by nonfeasance.  The report said that ‘willful negligence’ is applied to them because after the accident, the sailors escaped from the ship without taking any action knowing that the passengers would be at risk and it could lead to death.  However, the prosecutors’ investigation into the sailors is just the beginning of the Sewol-ho ferry investigation.  If this disaster is a case of murder by nonfeasance, legal liability of the Coast Guard and so-called ‘Control Tower’, that could not rescue even one person except 172 survivors who escaped from the sinking ship by themselves, is not light in comparison with the crewmen’s.  All the people who are accountable for the disaster must be punished according to their responsibilities.  


The entire nation knows that the captain and the crew who are responsible for evacuating all passengers acted irresponsibly.  People want to know the truth of the Sewol-ho ferry disaster, not the fact that people already know.  The prosecutors only announced the report of investigation into the captain and the crew members quickly.  It makes people worry that it is a tail-cropping that the Government’s failure of rescue is shifted on to the sailors’ shoulders.  It is difficult to expect the prosecutors to conduct an impartial investigation into so-called ‘Control Tower’, such as the Coast Guard, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, the Ministry of Security and Public Administration, Cheong Wa Dae (the office of the President), because the prosecutors gets endlessly smaller in front of power. 


The truth of the Sewol-ho ferry disaster is not to emulate individual facts.  We want the overall structure of responsibility to be revealed.  From the sinking to the rescue, what problems caused the disaster should be uncovered.  And when people in charge are punished based on this, our society can have a hope that this kind of a disaster will not happen again.  


To do so, a special law for the Sewol-ho ferry disaster investigation and punishment on person in charge should be enacted, as the bereaved families and many citizens require.  We cannot entrust a probe only to prosecutors.  A system to unearth the truth must be established first.  It should allow people to participate in the investigation, and include forming a fact-finding committee that all citizens can trust and investigating by a special prosecutor.  What the prosecutors do now is to prevent destruction of evidence and stop relevant person in charge from running away.  


For more information or media inquiry, please contact People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (Ms. Gayoon Baek,, +82 (0)2 723 5051). 


Statement in Korean >> 선원 수사, ‘꼬리 자르기’ 아니어야

(Translated by Ms. Misung Zo, Volunteer)

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