Hong Kong ferry captain convicted in deadly 2012 collision

AP News
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Posted: Feb 14, 2015 6:22 AM
Hong Kong ferry captain convicted in deadly 2012 collision

HONG KONG (AP) — The captain of a Hong Kong commuter ferry that collided with another boat in 2012, killing 39 people, was found guilty of manslaughter on Saturday, local media reported.

A nine-member jury also found Lai Sai-ming guilty of endangering the safety of others at sea, in what was Hong Kong's biggest maritime tragedy in decades, the South China Morning Post newspaper and Radio Television Hong Kong said.

The same jury found the captain of the other, smaller boat, Chow Chi-wai, innocent of manslaughter but guilty of endangering the safety of others at sea. All of those killed, including eight children, and most of the nearly 100 injured in the collision were aboard his boat.

The two captains had blamed each other for the Oct. 1, 2012, collision, which left this highly organized and overwhelmingly safe southern Chinese city traumatized.

The verdicts came down after a 60-day trial and four days of deliberations.

The manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, while endangering safety at sea carries a maximum of four years and a fine of 200,000 Hong Kong dollars ($25,000).

The verdicts were not posted online and Hong Kong High Court clerks could not immediately be reached for comment.

The ferry was heading from Hong Kong Island to the outlying island of Lamma when the collision occurred. The smaller boat, owned by the Hong Kong Electric Co., was taking employees of the company on a harbor excursion to watch the Chinese National Day fireworks display.

Fleets of ferries form the backbone of the city's transportation network, running frequently to outlying islands, the Chinese mainland and the gambling enclave of Macau.

The South China Morning Post quoted the judge in the case, Andrew Bruce, as saying that both captains had been "grossly negligent" in failing to keep a proper lookout and not responding effectively to avoid the collision.