Viking Sigyn captain indicted for misconduct in deadly tour boat sinking

Photo: Viking Cruises (file)

The captain of a river cruise ship has been indicted in a Budapest court for misconduct leading to multiple deaths in the highly publicised sinking of a sightseeing boat that occurred earlier this year.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office of Budapest said in a statement dated November 28 that the unnamed Ukrainian master of the cruise ship Viking Sigyn faces charges of “reckless misconduct in waterborne traffic leading to mass casualties” and “35 counts of failure to provide assistance” after his vessel struck the smaller tour boat Hableány amidships, causing it to capsize and sink in the Danube River in the Hungarian capital city at around 21:00 local time on May 29, 2019.

A total of 29 people, all but two of whom were South Korean nationals on holiday, perished in the incident. Only seven of Hableány‘s 33 occupants were ultimately rescued.

Prosecutors claim Viking Sigyn‘s captain had exhibited signs of negligence through his failure to maintain a safe distance from the ill-fated Hableány as he maneouvred his ship to overtake the smaller tour boat.

Further, the defendant had allegedly failed to “render adequate aid to the thirty-five victims whose lives were in immediate danger” despite his having participated in several rescue exercises in the weeks before the incident took place.

In Hungary, the charges normally carry a maximum prison term of 11 years for each count if an accused party is found guilty.

Prosecutors have proposed a nine-year prison sentence as well as a nine-year suspension of the defendant’s licence to operate a vessel if he submits a guilty plea and waives his right to a trial.

The captain has been in judicial custody in Budapest following his arrest one day after the incident.

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