South Korean coast guard and rescue teams search for passengers from the Sewol on April 17, 2014.

Story highlights

The captain of a coastguard ship sent to rescue passengers from the Sewol ferry is sentenced

Kim Kyung-il is given four years for professional negligence and making false reports

More than 300 people, most of them high school students, perished in the disaster

Seoul, South Korea CNN  — 

The captain of the first South Korean coast guard ship sent to rescue passengers from the doomed Sewol ferry has been sentenced to four years in prison for negligence.

Kim Kyung-il was sentenced in the Gwangju District Court for professional negligence and making false reports, court officials said.

More than 300 people died after the ferry capsized off the southwestern coast of South Korea in April, the majority of them high school students on a field trip.

On arriving at the scene, Kim failed to broadcast an evacuation order through his ship’s loudspeakers and made no effort to induce passengers to abandon ship, which constituted professional negligence, a court spokesman said.

He was also found guilty of making a false report by saying that he had broadcast an evacuation order when he had not.

Botched rescue

The Sewol disaster caused widespread outrage in the country over lax safety standards and the botched rescue attempt, prompting President Park Geun-Hye to promise an overhaul of national safety standards.

The ferry’s captain, Lee Joon-seok, was slammed by victims’ families for leaping to safety while hundreds remained inside the sinking ferry.

He was acquitted of murder in November, but found guilty of violating “seamen’s law” and abandonment causing death and injury. He was sentenced to 36 years in jail.

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