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Sewol ship captain admits to confusion on night of sinking

Lee Joon-seok is on trial for negligent homicide.

By Ed Adamczyk

GWANGJU , South Korea, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- The captain of the South Korean ferry testified he was confused on the day in April his ship sank, killing 304 people aboard.

Lee Joon-seok, 69, repeatedly said he was "confused and not in his normal state of mind" during his trial in Gwangju, South Korea, this week for negligent homicide. Eleven crew members of the boat, the Sewol, are also on trial.

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The Sewol was carrying 476 passengers, the majority high school students, when an inexperienced helmsman attempted a sharp turn, causing the vessel to list, and then sink. Lee apologized soon after the incident but became a target of public scorn after he admitted he abandoned the ship while some passengers were still on board.

South Korean President Park Guen-hye called his actions "murderous" and "unforgivable." The the body of Yoo Byung-eon, 73, believed to be chief of the corporation that owned the boat, was found in June, an apparent suicide. The overloading of the vessel is believed to be a factor in the incident.

In a separate trial in Incheon Wednesday, prosecutors recommended a four-year sentence for Yoo's son, Yoo Dae-kyun, 44, on embezzling charges. He is on trial for misappropriating funds from Cheonghaejin Marine Co., operators of the Sewol.

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