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Captain Lee makes nonsensical excuse for escape

Posted April. 21, 2014 01:47,   


New circumstantial evidence suggests the situation of how the captain and some crew members escaped the ferry Sewol, leaving behind passengers in the sinking ship. At Korea Coast Guard investigation one of them said that “I escaped because I had hip pain,” while others asked investigators to include "their rescue activities" in the police report even by rejecting to sign on the report, displaying shameless behaviors.

Dong-A Ilbo reporters compared the list of people rescued in the first round, which was drafted as of 7 p.m. on Wednesday, with the list of crewmen in the Sewol, to find that 11 crewmen including captain Lee Joon-seok (69), who has been arrested, were marked as "ordinary people" or "unknown" rather than "crewmembers." The first list of people rescued in the first round was drafted by Korea Coast Guard and military officials, who moved around Paengmok Port in Jindo County, South Jeolla Province to ask the name and occupation of survivors on Wednesday.

Thirteen of the 18 crew members who were rescued at the sinking Sewol were included in the list, but only five people, including Engineer 1 identified by his last name Sohn (58) was marked as crewmen. Of the remaining eight, three including Captain Lee and chief engineer Park (48) were marked as ordinary people, while the occupation column was left blank for the entries of five crewmembers, including skipper identified by his last name Oh (58).

When drafting the list of people rescued, the Korea Coast Guard was so careful in specifying the occupation of crewmen that it even reportedly classified Pilipino singer E (45) as crewman. This raises the suspicion that eight crewmen including Captain Lee may have sought to hide their identities to cover up the fact they disserted the passengers and vessel to escape before others. A source at the Korea Coast Guard said, “If the people identified their identity as crewmen, their names would not have been omitted from the list.”

Lee and crewmen made nonsensical testimonies and claims in Korea Coast Guard investigation repeatedly as well. According to a joint investigation team of prosecutors and police, 10 crewmembers of the Sewol, including Lee, boarded the first rescue ship and saved their lives, while most passengers remained stranded in the vessel. Asked why he boarded the rescue ship by violating his obligation to command situation in the vessel, Lee said, “I rushed out because I had deep (hip) pain. At that moment, a rescue ship arrived in front of me, and I only followed instruction because rescuers asked us to get on board, and I never dumped passengers.”

Park (26), the third mate who steered the doomed vessel at the time of the accident, said, “I only did as instructed in textbooks. I didn’t have much that I could do (in the cabin) under a situation where even strong males barely managed to endure.” During the investigation, there was also a stir, in which skipper Oh declined to sign the police inspection report, demanding that account his rescue activities be included in the investigation report. According to the Korea Coast Guard, Oh was questioned as witness for 30 minutes from 1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday at a patient room at Mokpo Korea Hospital. Then, he started writing his account in details reading, "After escape, I conducted rescue activities. Around the Sewol while riding the rescue ship, I broke window glass in person on behalf of the Korea Coast Guard, and rescued people” in the column asking, “Is there any complaint in the course of investigation?”

As Oh continued writing on the back of the investigation report, police asked him “not to write on matters that are unrelated to the investigation,” and Oh declined to fingerprint on the report. In the end, Oh was summoned to the Korea Coast Guard on Sunday and wrote a new investigation report before fingerprinting on it.