28 Jun 2010

Tonga government announces it will bring in independent prosecutor for Princess Ashika cases

10:49 am on 28 June 2010

The Tongan government is about to confirm it will bring in an independent prosecutor to assist with prosecutions arising from the Princess Ashika disaster.

A number of people are awaiting trial following last August's sinking which claimed 74 lives.

The former Attorney General, John Cauchi, had sought the prosecutors, Grant Burston of New Zealand and Dan Howard of Australia, before his resignation in April.

One reason he gave for suddenly leaving his post was the government's lack of support for retaining the prosecutors.

The government's maintained it was a budgetting issue and now, with the new estimates being finalised, the Prime Minister, Dr Feleti Sevele, says there's a commitment to bring at least one of them in.

"I would certainly say that we would start with one of them and see what was needed, but that is something for the law people, Crown Law people to decide on."

Dr Feleti Sevele says Parliament is holding off discussing the report into the sinking until the criminal cases are heard.