Crowd Shouts "Murderer!" at South Korean Ferry Captain as Trial Begins

Today marked the opening of court proceedings for 15 crew members from the Sewol, the South Korean ferry that sank off the country's southwestern coast in April, killing more than 300 people. According to Reuters, the captain entered the courtroom to a shout of "murderer!"

Captain Lee Joon-seok, along with three other crew members, was charged with homicide and could face the death penalty. Two crew members were charged with fleeing and abandoning ship, and the remainder were charged with negligence.

Reuters reports on the emotional scene at the courtroom:

As the defendants were led in, someone in the packed courtroom shouted: "That guy is the captain, isn't he? Murderer!"

One relative held up a sign that read: "You are not human. You are beneath animals." An altercation broke out between relatives and security guards who tried to take the sign away.

Park Eun-hee, whose daughter died on the ferry, rejected the idea that the actions of the crew — which abandoned ship while hundreds of children were still onboard — were defensible because of panic:

"We mothers say this. The crew claimed that they had panic disorder so they didn't know what to do or couldn't save the passengers," she said sobbing. "But during that time, our children were crying as they called their parents and said they were scared."

The crew's next court appearance is slated for next Tuesday.

[Image via AP]