25 Mar 2011

Tonga's solicitor general says four accused in Ashika trial must have known of deficiency

11:21 am on 25 March 2011

Tonga's solicitor general says the defendants in the Princess Ashika manslaughter trial all knew of the vessel's deficiencies.

'Aminiasi Kefu was giving the crown's final submission in the case against the acting director of marine, Viliami Tu'ipolutu, the CEO of the Shipping Company of Polynesia John Jonesse, the ship's captain, Maka Tuputupu, his first mate, Semisi Pomale and the company itself.

Falemaka Fihaki reports from Tonga:

"'Aminiasi Kefu told the jury the four men had knowledge of the ship's state through the information supplied them and first hand experience. Viliami Tu'ipulotu, the former director of marine, had been given the list of deficiencies by the three surveyors but still issued the certificates for the ship. John Jonesse had seen the same list as well as survey results provided by engineers. He says the captain Maka Tuputupu and first mate Semisi Pomale had seen these deficiencies and experienced the problems on earlier voyages, including the trip from Fiji when waves smashed the stern ramp. And he says Mr Pomale, who'd been in command until just before the sinking, hadn't performed his duty well, because he remained silent, and at times he allegedly swore at crew who told him about the water the Ashika was taking in. On Tuesday morning judge Justice Shuster will sum up before the seven assessors begin their deliberations."