23 Mar 2011

Lawyer for captain of Ashika tells jury in Tonga vessel was seaworthy

10:38 am on 23 March 2011

Submissions from the lawyer for the captain of the MV Princess Ashika has stated to a jury in Tonga that the vessel was seaworthy.

Seventy-four people died when the passenger ferry sank in August 2009.

Sifa Tuutafaiva, counsel for captain, Maka Tuputupu, said his client had done all in his power to ensure things were in place before the vessel departed Tongatapu on the eve of the tragedy.

Mr Tuutafaiva told the jury that the provisional certificate of survey for the Ashika was still valid.

He also stated the ship was seaworthy and that neither the shipping corporation of polynesia or the Marine division attempted to stop it from sailing.

He said that the ship's seaworthiness was a concern of its owners.

Mr Tuutafaiva disputed allegations that Captain Tuputupu was grossly negligent in carrying out his duties.

He told the jury the Captain was unable to prevent the sinking with the limited amount of time he had.

A verdict in the Princess Ashika manslaughter trial is expected by early next week.