South Korea's top court has upheld a lifetime sentence for the captain of the ferry that sank last year, killing more than 300 people, most of them teenagers on a school trip.

An official from the Supreme Court said Thursday that it had upheld a lower court ruling that sentenced Lee Joon-seok, 70, to life imprisonment for charges that included homicide. The court ruled Lee committed homicide by "willful negligence" because he fled his ship without giving an evacuation order although he is required by law to take measures to save his passengers.

A total of 304 people died when the ferry Sewol sank off South Korea's southwest coast in April 2014 in one of the country's deadliest maritime disasters. Most of the victims were from a single high school.