High school students rescued from the sunken ferry Sewol will testify at a district court near their residence instead of a court in this southern city where the captain and crew members of the ship are on trial, court officials said Tuesday.
Accepting a request from families of the students, the Gwangju District Court allowed surviving students of Danwon High School in Ansan, just south of Seoul, to provide testimony at the Ansan branch of the Suwon District Court.
"The examination of witnesses will be held at the Ansan branch since the students are minors, most of them live in Ansan, and that it is difficult for them to be on a long-distance trip due to the side effects of the accident," Judge Yim Jeong-yeob said in his ruling.
A total of 326 students from Danwon High School were on a school trip to the southern resort island of Jeju when the 6,825-ton Sewol sank off the country's southwest coast on April 16.
The captain Lee Joon-seok and three crew members have been charged with murder, prosecutors said. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.
The other 11 crew members have been indicted on charges of abandonment and violating a ship safety act, they added.
Prosecutors allege that the sailors left the ship as it was sinking while telling passengers to stay where they were inside the cabins. The sailors were among the first to be rescued by Coast Guard personnel sent to the accident site.
The next trial date is slated for July 22 when passengers and crew members will testify. (Yonhap)