1 Jun 2012

PNG ship owner accused of misleading investigators

5:57 am on 1 June 2012

The owner of the Rabaul Queen has been accused of deliberately misleading the Papua New Guinea Commission of Inquiry into the ship's sinking.

The Commission of Inquiry into last February's sinking, in which more than 200 people are thought to have died, is in its seventh week of testimony.

Megan Whelan has more.

"Captain Peter Sharp was asked if he knew there were more than 360 people on board the Rabaul Queen when it sank. He denied that, but the lawyer assisting the Commission, Manuel Varitimos, accused Captain Sharp of deliberately giving false evidence. Mr Varitimos suggested to Captain Sharp that it has become what he termed a complete shemozzle to ascertain from the company's records how many people were on board the vessel when it sank. Captain Sharp replied that it is clear there were only 360 people on board, more than the 295 it was legally entitled to carry, and continued to deny any responsibility for the tragedy. Mr Varitimos suggested that the only basis for suggesting the sinking was an act of God, is if Captain sharp believes himself to be God. He replied to say that was a very inappropriate statement, and he does not act as if he is above the law."