8 Feb 2011

Tonga ferry manslaughter trial delayed after jury dismissed

11:50 am on 8 February 2011

The Princess Ashika manslaughter trial in Tonga has run into problems on its second day and its jurors have been dismissed.

Prosecutors were due to open their case against the four men involved this morning.

Four men, including the New Zealander John Jonesse, are defending charges of manslaughter by negligence.

The Shipping Corporation of Polynesia is also charged in relation to the ferry sinking in 2009 that killed 74-people.

But it emerged that one of the seven jurors has a previous conviction, from the riots in Nuku'alofa in 2006.

The issue was raised with the judge, who has discharged the entire jury.

The Crown says it's disappointed by the trial's sudden collapse and says it believes it stems from a flaw in the jury system.

A new jury will be selected on Friday and the Crown will try to open its case again on Monday.