24 Feb 2011

Two more witnesses testify in Tonga's Ashika trial

2:26 pm on 24 February 2011

Two witnesses who inspected the Princess Ashika ferry before it left Fiji have appeared in court in Tonga.

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

Our reporter, Katalina Tohi has more.

"Gary Bennett, a consultant from New Zealand, and a diesel engine mechanic, David Shaw, took part in the survey of the vessel in Fiji in April 2009 before it was purchased. They were asked by the manager of the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia, John Jonesse, to look at the transmission and engine of the vessel, and the two main engines. Both men explained to the court similar concern with the exhaust pipe used to drain out hot water from the engine to the sea which they say was leaking and needed repair. The document from the survey had been signed by Mr Jonesse and Mr Bennett, however Mr Shaw claims his signature had been forged. The trial continues with former Minister of Transport, Paul Karalus, expected to take the witness stand this afternoon."