SEOUL, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- A South Korean court has sentenced Lee Joon-seok, who was captaining the Sewol ferry when it capsized last April, to 36 years in prison for gross negligence.
Judge Lim Joung-youb told the court that Lee "abandoned his passengers, knowing that they were waiting for instructions from the crew and that if they were not evacuated, their lives would be at risk."
Prosecutors had sought a murder conviction and the death penalty for Lee, who said at trial that he was "confused and not in his normal state of mind" when the ferry capsized.
The Sewol was carrying more than 470 people when the overloaded vessel started listing. Photographs showed Lee, 69, jumping into a rescue boat while hundreds of passengers remained on board.
More than 300 people died, many of them high school students, after authorities told them to remain in their cabins while the ship sank.
Divers found another body in the wreckage last month. Nine people are still missing.