31 Mar 2010

Tonga inquiry report into Ashika sinking will be presented to King today

9:11 am on 31 March 2010

The Tonga Royal Commission of Inquiry report on the sinking of the ferry Princess Ashika last August will be presented to the King of Tonga and the country's Privy Council today.

The inquiry was established to investigate the disaster in which 74 people died.

That inquiry revealed the vessel, which had been bought from a Fiji company just weeks earlier, was full of rust and unseaworthy, but politicians, officials and the boat's crew chose to overlook its faults.

An independent police investigation has also been underway with two crew and two marine officials charged with a variety of offences, including manslaughter.

It is not known when the inquiry report will be made public but the Government has committed to acting quickly on its recommendations.

Sonia Puleheloto, whose niece Sisilia Puleheloto went down with the ferry, says the family will not rest until it knows who is responsible.

"We mourn for our loved one but there is no closure because we haven't put her to rest. I know she is one of the passengers that sunk on the Ashika but in saying the family has not closure because we have not put her to rest."

Sonia Puleheloto says other families who lost relatives feel the same.