23 Feb 2011

Tonga officer stunned at forged signature in ferry report

7:58 pm on 23 February 2011

A senior Marine Nautical Officer has told the Ashika trial in Tonga he was surprised to find his signature had been forged on a report on the ferry.

Senior Marine Nautical Officer, Lou Pale, who took part in the survey of the Ashika, was on the witness stand this morning.

The ferry sank in August in 2009, claiming 74 lives.

Lou Pale told the court that he did not sign the report from the survey, as he was not present at a meeting on July the 2nd between surveyors, Vuni Latu, and Onesi Tuifua and the Acting Director of Marine , Viliami Tuipulotu.

He said it was some time before he found out that his signature was forged on the report by Mafi Kavaliku, another marine officer.

Mr Pale said the report clearly states the Ashika was unseaworthy and should not sail until deficiencies were attended to.

The trial is expected to continue for at least two more weeks.