22 Mar 2011

Lawyer for Tonga marine official tells Ashika trial his client carried out his duties

1:42 pm on 22 March 2011

The trial in Tonga of four men accused of manslaughter following the Princess Ashika tragedy has been told the former director of marine, Viliami Tu'ipolutu, wasn't negligent and had fulfilled his duties properly.

Mr Tu'ipolutu with the CEO of the Shipping Company of Polynesia John Jonesse, the ship's captain, Maka Tuputupu, the first mate, Semisi Pomale and the company itself are collectively facing 30 charges.

Falemaka Fihaki reports from Tonga:


The trial is into its final stages and in his summing up Mr Tu'ipolutu's lawyer, Peau Pifeleti, says there's no evidence his client was negligent in carrying out his duty as marine director. He says a survey carried out by Lou Pale, 'Onesi Tuifua and Lisiate Vuni Latu soon after the Ashika arrived in Tonga highlighted deficiencies. Mr Pifeleti says Mr Tuipulotu signed off the survey document which itemised the changes needed before the ship could sail and these included repairs to the bow and stern ramps, the stuppers and the loadline issue. Mr Pifeleti told the jury his client had done what was required of him by the government in overseeing the results of the survey, as well as emphasizing what needed to be repaired and there's no evidence saying otherwise.