SEOUL, April 24 The captain and two crew of a
South Korean ferry that sank last week have a state appointed
attorney to represent them as they face charges of negligence
relating to the deaths of hundreds of passengers.
Captain Lee Joon-seok, 69, and two other crew members who
abandoned ship have been arrested on negligence charges.
Their actions have been called "tantamount to murder" by
South Korean President Park Geun-hye as the emotionally charged
investigation and recovery of hundreds of bodies - many of them
children from a single school - continues.
Four of the crew were paraded in front of Korean television
cameras on Thursday and apologised for their actions in leaving
the sinking vessel while passengers were still on board.
The three main suspects, the captain, a third mate and the
helmsmen, have also apologised, according to a source who is
directly familiar with the legal proceedings, but have not
According to the source, the three were asked whether they
wanted to get their own lawyers, but did not take up the offer.
It was not immediately known why.
The lawyer appointed by the state had talked to the crew
members for an hour ahead of a hearing to determine the validity
of the warrant against them, the source said.
The source declined to be named due to the legal proceedings
and the controversial nature of the case.
Kim & Chang, one of South Korea's largest law firms, has
said it had been retained by Chonghaejin Marine, the company
that operated the ferry.
"Yes, we are assisting the owners," attorney Chung Byung-suk
told Reuters from Seoul.
The owners have not been indicted but have been served with
bans from leaving the country.
(Reporting by Joyce Lee in SEOUL and Keith Wallis in SINGAPORE;
Writing by David Chance; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)