BUDAPEST, June 1 (Xinhua) -- The captain of a cruise liner that crashed into a sightseeing ship in Budapest was arrested pending a criminal investigation into the tragedy, a Hungarian official told Xinhua on Saturday.
"The court charged and arrested the captain of the cruise ship after a hearing of several hours," a spokesman of the Budapest prosecutor's office told Xinhua following the decision.
He was charged with threat of waterborne traffic causing a fatal mass disaster.
"The prosecutor's office made a motion to arrest the suspected captain," the prosecutor's office announced in a statement.
The captain of the cruise ship was detained by Hungarian authorities on May 30, but Hungarian laws limit detention to 72 hours. If a suspect is not charged after this period, he has to be released, set free on bail, or arrested.
"The investigating judge ordered the arrest of the captain for one month today. In addition, the court found that the suspect could be placed under house arrest, but the prosecution appealed this decision," the statement said.
Gabor Elo, a lawyer for the 64-year-old captain, a Ukrainian citizen, told that his client maintained his innocence during the hearing.
"I do not want to enter into details about his testimony, but he did not change what he said when he was questioned as a witness: he did not commit any wrongdoing, and is extremely sorry for the accident," Elo told journalists following the decision.
The sightseeing boat, the "Hableany" (Mermaid in English), carrying 33 South Korean tourists and two Hungarian crew members collided with the large Swiss cruise ship (Type Viking) and sank in the Danube in the evening on Wednesday.
Hungarian authorities confirmed that 35 people were on board the Hableany, seven people were dead, seven saved, all South-Koreans, and 21 were still missing, including the two Hungarian crew members.
The Mermaid has been found close to the Margit Bridge, and preparatory work was initiated to hoist the wreckage out of the waters, but the flooding of the Danube slowed down the operation which might take days, according to experts.
On Saturday, search and rescue teams -- including expert divers from Austria and South Korea -- tried to assemble a metal structure to be lowered into the Danube, in order to divert the strong current and enable the divers to descend and approach the wreck.