Prosecutors to Appeal Stellar Daisy Judgment

Stellar Daisy VDR
Stellar Daisy VDR

Published Feb 24, 2020 12:52 AM by The Maritime Executive

The International Stellar Daisy Network reports that the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office has announced that it will appeal to a higher court regarding the case of the sinking of the Stellar Daisy.

The South Korean ore carrier sank in 3,400 meters of water in the South Atlantic Ocean on March 31, 2017. Only two Philippine sailors were rescued from 24 crew members (eight Korean and 16 Filipinos). The Republic of the Marshall Islands concluded that the likely direct cause of the vessel's foundering was a rapid list to port following a catastrophic structural failure of the ship's hull.

Polaris Shipping and its CEO Kim Wan-Jung (64), owner of Stellar Daisy, were charged with violations of ‘Ship Safety Law’ along with five other employees. The Korean prosecutors called for four years of imprisonment for the CEO for not reporting the defects of the ship to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, which was required by law.  

A judgment on February 18 found him guilty of not reporting vessel defects and not guilty in his obligation to maintain balance of the ship. Kim was sentenced to six month imprisonment with one year's probation, and Polaris Shipping received a penalty fine of 15 million won ($12,317). 

After the trial, Stellar Daisy families held a press conference, welcoming the guilty verdict and noting the positive impact of the revision of the Ship Safety Law on January 6, 2015, after the Sewol disaster that claimed 304 lives in 2014. However, they expressed their disappointment at what they view as a light sentence. 
Last February, the Korean government commissioned the American exploration company Ocean Infinity to find and retrieve the vessel's VDR. The VDR did not include the voices of crew members during the last moments before the vessel sank. One of the data chips was cracked and only seven percent of the data has been released from the other chip.

The families have reiterated their call for another search of the wreckage to gain more information about the cause of the sinking and to recover the human remains that were found there on the previous mission.