BUDAPEST (Reuters) - A Ukrainian captain of a cruise liner was sentenced to five and a half years in prison in Hungary on Tuesday for his role in a 2019 accident in which his boat hit and sank a smaller boat on the River Danube, killing 25 South Korean tourists and two crew.
In the worst disaster on the Danube in more than half a century, the smaller tourist boat called Mermaid, with 35 people on board, sank after being hit by the cruiser under a bridge in Budapest during heavy rain.
Twenty five of those killed were South Koreans. The Mermaid's captain and its crew member also died and one Korean is still unaccounted for.
"The accused, C. Yuriy is found guilty of....negligence posing a threat in water transport...and the court sentences him to five and a half years in prison," judge Leona Nemeth said, delivering the judgement which can be appealed.
The Ukrainian man, who has been in custody since 2019, told the court that he was "deeply sorry" about the tragedy.
"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," a visibly emotional man told the court.
The captain was acquitted by the court on the charge of failing to provide help.
Only seven Korean passengers survived the accident.
(This story has been corrected to fix the length of the prison sentence to five and a half years, not five years, in the headline, paragraph 1 and 4)
(Reporting by Boldizsar Gyori and Krisztina Than; Editing by Christina Fincher)