Captain sentenced over deadly Budapest boat crash

STORY: A Ukrainian captain of a cruise liner has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison for his role in a 2019 accident in Hungary which killed 25 South Korean tourists and two crew members.

Judge Leona Nemeth delivered the verdict at Pest County Central Court in Budapest on Tuesday (September 25).

“According to paragraph 3, guilty of negligence posing a threat in water transport.”

It was the worst disaster on the River Danube in more than half a century.

The cruise liner operated by the accused "C. Yuriy" collided with a smaller tourist boat called Mermaid under a bridge in the capital city during heavy rain.

Only seven passengers survived.

Judge Nemeth ruling the captain did not comply with overtaking since he didn't notice the boat in his way.

The Ukrainian man has been in custody since 2019 and told the court he was “deeply sorry” for the tragedy.

He said, "I cannot escape the memories of this terrible tragedy for a minute, I cannot sleep, and I think this is what I have to live with for the rest of my life".

However, the court acquitted the captain on the charge of failing to provide help.

The prosecution's Zsolt Sogor believes he could have done more in the aftermath.

“Practically, he may have two or two and a half years left which he will have to spend in prison. I feel sorry for this man, he really did it from negligence. What we disagree with the court about is that, in our view, a captain of a ship must act and so it was not enough that his crew began to save people, he should have coordinated the rescue and tried to save people.”

The judgement can be appealed.