31 Mar 2011

Tonga jury still deliberating Ashika case

4:03 pm on 31 March 2011

The jury in the Princess Ashika trial in Tonga is still deliberating on the charges faced by four men and a shipping company in relation to the ferry's sinking in which 74 people drowned.

The four are John Jonesse, the New Zealander who'd been chief executive of the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia, the Ashika's captain Maka Tuputupu, his first mate Semisi Pomale and a former director of the ministry of transport, Viliami Tu'ipulotu.

The corporation is also charged.

Collectively they face 30 counts, including one charge each of manslaughter by negligence in relation to the death of Vaefetu'u Mahe, whose body was one of just two recovered after the sinking.

The seven assessors began their deliberations at nine this morning.

The trial, which began on the 11th of February, is the biggest trial in Tongan history and has been held at the Parliament building to accommodate the media and the public.