31 Jul 2010

Trials for Tonga's Ashika ferry sinking set

9:32 am on 31 July 2010

The trials of four people charged over the sinking of the Tonga ferry disaster have been set for the 8th of September at the Nuku'alofa Supreme Court.

New Zealander John Jonesse, the former managing director of the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia, the Princess Ashika's skipper Makahokovalu Tuputupu, his first mate Semisi Pomale, and the acting director of marine, Viliami Tu'ipulotu, have been charged with manslaughter by negligence for the death of Vae Fetu'u Taufa.

She was one of 74 people who drowned when the Ashika sank last August.

The corporation itself has also been charged.

Tonga's police commander, Chris Kelley, has said more arrests are possible as further evidence is gathered.

Matangi Tonga online reports that the Commission of Inquiry into the sinking said it was alarming that the Shipping Corporation had recommended the ferry's purchase without proper due diligence, surveys, inspections, valuations, documentation or any proper inquiry being completed.