Head of S. Korea ferry owner detained

SEOUL - The head of the maritime company that owns the South Korean ferry that sank with the loss of around 300 lives last month was detained Thursday ahead of formal manslaughter charges.

Prosecutors said Kim Han-Sik, chief executive of Chonghaejin Marine Co., was taken into custody at his home and would be formally arraigned later in the day.

"Kim faces various charges including manslaughter and violating maritime law," senior prosecutor Yang Jung-Jin told AFP.

The charges stem from allegations that Kim was involved in, or turned a blind eye to, the overloading of the 6,825-tonne ferry's cargo consignment - seen as a major contributing factor to its capsize.

Handcuffed and wearing a cap and surgical mask that hid his face, Kim was paraded before TV cameras after he was detained.

"I apologise to the victims and the families," he said.

He then refused to answer further questions from reporters, staying silent with his head bowed.

The captain of the Sewol ferry has already been arrested along with 14 crew members and four lower-ranking Chonghaejin Marine officials.

The ferry had 476 people on board when it sank April 16 after listing sharply to one side and then rolling over.

Initial investigations suggest it was carrying up to three times its safe cargo capacity.