4 Feb 2011

Trial of men charged over Ashika tragedy starts Monday at Tonga parliament

4:07 pm on 4 February 2011

The trial of four people charged in relation to the sinking of the Tonga inter island ferry, the MV Ashika, is due to start on Monday, with the selection of a seven person jury.

The Ashika sank on August the 5th in 2009 with 74 people drowning.

The accused are former managing director of the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia, New Zealander John Jonesse, the Ashika's skipper, Maka Tuputupu, his first mate, Semisi Pomale, and the acting director of marine, Viliami Tu'ipulotu.

The corporation itself has also been charged.

The charges include manslaughter by negligence, with Mr Jonesse additionally charged with forgery of documents relating to the purchase of the vessel.

The trial has been moved to Tonga's parliament because of a lack of room at the Supreme Court for the lawyers, media and public expected to attend.