3 Oct 2011

Shock in Tonga that man jailed over Ashika sinking walks free

4:12 pm on 3 October 2011

The head of a non-government organisation in Tonga says he's shocked that a man convicted for his role in the Princess Ashika sinking has walked free after serving just six months in jail.

Drew Havea,

John Jonesse headed the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia, which operated the ferry whose 2009 sinking caused the death of 74 people.

He was convicted on eight charges including manslaughter by negligence and was initially sentenced to five years jail but on Friday the Court of Appeal reduced his sentence.

The chair of the Civil Society Forum of Tonga, Drew Havea, says that may upset some people.

"I'm very surprised and shocked because of Jonesse only served six months. I don't think it will sit very well with families, particularly I think when we look at it the six months doesn't seem right for such a disaster and a situation where 74 lives were lost."

Drew Havea.

Jonesse's sentence was reduced to three and a half years, with the remaining three years suspended.