2012 ferry tragedy: Hong Kong captain found guilty of manslaughter of 39
A Hong Kong ferry captain was on Saturday found guilty of manslaughter over the deaths of 39 people in a 2012 boat collision, the city's worst maritime disaster in nearly four decades.
Sea Smooth skipper Lai Sai-ming, 56, was also convicted of one count of endangering the safety of others at sea by a Hong Kong court over the accident between his high-speed ferry and a pleasure boat near Lamma Island.
The captain of the other boat, Chow Chi-wai, 58, was acquitted of all manslaughter charges but found guilty of one count of endangering the safety of others at sea.
Lai looked solemn as he heard the “guilty” verdicts for all charges against him read out in court, which could see him sentenced to life in prison. The nine member jury found him guilty by a majority of seven-to-two.
“Mr Lai will be sentenced on Monday,” his lawyer Audrey Campbell-Moffat told press outside the city's high court, while refusing to comment on the judgement.
Chow, 58, who was at the helm of the Lamma IV pleasure boat when it crashed with more than 120 people on board on October 1, 2012, faces a maximum sentence of HK$200,000 ($25,787) and four years' imprisonment.
Chow's lawyer, Gerard McCoy, did not comment on the verdict. The pair had both pleaded not guilty to the 39 counts each of manslaughter and have been remanded in custody until sentencing.
The jury deliberated for almost four days before coming to a decision on Saturday afternoon.
Before the verdicts were read out after 60 days of court hearings, deputy High Court judge Brian Keith called for the packed courtroom to remain still, saying “these are moments of high tension”.
“The lives of the 39 people cannot be compensated by this judgement,” an emotional Irene Cheng who lost her 24-yr-old son in the boat collision told reporters.
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