31 Mar 2011

Ashika jury to reassemble to consider verdict

7:18 am on 31 March 2011

The jury in the Princess Ashika trial in Tonga is due to reassemble this morning to consider its verdict.

Four men and a shipping company are accused of manslaughter in relation to the ferry's sinking in which 74 people drowned.

In summing up Judge Robert Shuster told the jury to take note of key witnesses including the crew's account of the difficulties they had bailing water and reporting problems to senior officers on the night of the sinking.

He also reminded them of surveys which showed the ship's deteriorating condition and that the owners were aware of the state of the ship.

Our correspondent Falemaka Fihaki says the jury's expected to deliver a verdict as early as today.

"There's been an increase in the public to court in the last couple of days. I think the public is sensing that this is coming to an end soon. So the number of people turning up is increasing and I think more people will be turning up to court to hear the verdict."