18 Nov 2016

Lack of money for MV Rabaul trial irks PNG court

9:40 am on 18 November 2016

The Papua New Guinea government's two top advisers on law and money have been summoned to appear in court to explain why there is no money to conclude the tragic MV Rabaul Queen trial.

Justice Secretary Lawrence Kalinoe and Finance Secretary Ken Ngangan were ordered to appear before Justice Terence Higgins at the National Court on November 30 to explain the financial status of the trial.

Justice Higgins this week questioned the non-availability of funds preventing the speedy trial of Peter Sharp, the owner of the ill-fated coastal vessel which sank in Morobe Province waters in February 2012 killing about 171 on board.

Mr Sharp and co-accused MV Rabaul Queen captain Anthony Tsiau are before the court facing 88 charges of manslaughter for the lives lost during the tragedy.

Justice Higgins ordered the appearance of Dr Kalinoe and Dr Ngangan following submissions by Mr Sharp's lawyer Robert Asa of Warner Shand Lawyers that the continuous adjournment of his client's trial was breaching his rights under the Constitution to a speedy trial.

The adjournments had been regular since April and were due to the unavailability of State funds to fly in witnesses from as far as Australia to give evidence.

The Post Courier reports that prior to the summoning of the two departmental heads, the State lawyer Camillus Sambua had applied for the matter to be adjourned, again on the grounds of unavailability of funds.

Mr Sambua however, conceded to Mr Asa's submission later during the trial.

The court was also told that the speedy trial of Mr Sharp will bring some closure to the survivors and families of the victims of the tragedy.

The Rabaul Queen

The Rabaul Queen Photo: Supplied

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