1 Apr 2011

Guilty verdicts in Tonga's Ashika trial

10:46 am on 1 April 2011

All the defendants in the Ashika trial in Tonga have just been found guilty by a jury which had been deliberating since Thursday morning.

Four men and a shipping company faced charges 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 was also charged.

Collectively they faced 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 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.