21 Mar 2011

Lawyers summing up in Tonga's Princess Ashika trial

2:39 pm on 21 March 2011

Lawyers in the Princess Ashika trial in Tonga have begun their closing arguments today.

The tragedy led to the deaths of 74 people.

Megan Whelan has more.

"The Shipping Corporation of Polynesia, its former director John Jonesse, the Ashika's skipper, Maka Tuputupu, first mate Semisi Pomale, and the acting director of marine, Viliami Tu'ipulotu are charged in relation to the sinking of the Ashika on August 5, 2009. The trial in Tonga's capital, Nukualofa, has been sitting for over three weeks with the Crown closing its case last week. The Matangi Tonga newsite reports the five counsel representing the four accused told the court they would not give evidence nor would they be calling any witnesses. The prosecution's last witness, Lisiate Vuni Latu a surveyor, last week told the court he had directly told the then minister of transport Paul Karalus, that the Ashika was unseaworthy."