Kim Han-sik, CEO of Chonghaejin Marine Co. Ltd., which owns the sunken ferry. Pic: AP.

GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — The chief of the operator of the sunken South Korean ferry and four employees are to appear in court to enter pleas on charges that their negligence caused the April sinking that left more than 300 people dead or missing.

Kim Han-sik, CEO of Chonghaejin Marine Co., and four employees will enter pleas at a preliminary hearing Friday at Gwangju District Court.

Prosecutors indicted them on charges of professional negligence and violating a law on safe maritime navigation.

Last week, all but one of 15 crew members responsible for the ferry’s navigation pleaded not guilty to charges connected to an alleged failure to protect the passengers who were mostly high school students on a trip.

They said their employer was responsible because sailors had no control over overloaded cargo.

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