Hong Kong Officials Face Ferry Disaster Trial
Two Hong Kong officials will be the latest facing trial over a 2012 ferry collision that killed 39 people, including eight children. The maritime officers were charged in March of this year and will go to trial on May 26.
The collision of the high speed ferry Sea Smooth and the pleasure boat Lamma IV was the deadliest Hong Kong maritime accident in forty years. The incident occurred October 12, 2012, while Hong Kong waters were filled by vessels celebrating China’s National Day. In addition to the 39 deaths in the incident, 92 injuries were also reported.
Wong Kam-ching, 60, a retired senior ship inspector is facing charges of perjury and So Ping-chi, 58, assistant marine director is facing charges of misconduct in a public office. Local news sources are reporting that around the time of the incident Ping-chi instructed his staff to ignore rules regarding life-jackets on registered vessels.
Several convictions have already been handed down for the tragedy. In April 2014, 17 officials from the Marine Department were found to be at fault for the collision. Earlier this year, the two vessel captains were sentenced. The Sea Smooth ferry captain received eight years in jail following a February conviction on 39 counts of manslaughter and the captain of the Lamma IV was sentenced to nine months in prison for endangering the safety of others at sea, dodging a manslaughter conviction.
The quantity of officials implicated in the collision raised safety questions in the Hong Kong maritime community since the city is home to one of the world’s busiest ports. An official inquiry cited the abundance of errors made leading up to the disaster.