State prosecutors on Thursday indicted Sewol-ho ferry captain Lee Joon-seok and three other crew members on charges of homicide out of willful negligence.
They say the four fled the ill-fated ferry without first evacuating hundreds of passengers on board, and also calling on them to remain in their cabins.
Prosecutors say some of the crew confessed that they did not attempt to save passengers because they themselves wanted to survive.
If found guilty, they could face a maximum penalty of life in prison or even the death penalty.
At the Gwangju District Court in the south of the country, the prosecutors also indicted 11 other crew members for negligence of duty and violation of maritime law, which stipulates they should have been the last to leave the ship.
Instead, they also escaped from the ferry as soon as they realized that water levels were rising.
They are also accused of changing out of their uniforms during the rescue operation, making it difficult for the coast guard to distinguish them from passengers.
Prosecutors are also putting more pressure on Yoo Byung-eon, the practical owner of the Sewol-ho ferry's operator.
He's been called in for questioning this Friday, and is currently believed to be holed up inside a religious facility in Anseong, Gyeonggi-do province, where members of the so-called Salvation Sect,
which was founded by the Yoo family, are gathering in big numbers and blocking the gates to the facility.
They made a statement in the afternoon, denouncing authorities for associating their religion with the Sewol-ho tragedy and infringing upon their religious rights.
They also questioned why the Coast Guard and their rescue response to the disaster are not being investigated.
The sect has been under fire for weeks, as it is accused of being involved in the Yoo family's wrongdoings, and because some of the Sewol-ho crew are members of the cult.
Shin Se-min, Arirang News.