12 Mar 2019

Kiribati families fundraise for lawsuit against govt over ferry disaster

2:01 pm on 12 March 2019

Kiribati families of victims lost in last year's Butiraoi ferry disaster are fund-raising for a lawsuit against the government.

Some of the seven survivors shortly after being rescued.

Some of the seven survivors shortly after being rescued Photo: Facebook/ @RadioKiribati

It comes amid growing discontentment over the government's response to the tragedy, in which at least 80 people died

Ngatau Neneia, an NGO worker who is representing the families, says the case against the government will be based on gross negligence.

He said the families will argue less people would have died in the disaster if authorities had launched a search and rescue mission earlier.

A New Zealand lawyer, Kahungunu Barron-Afeaki, has agreed to represent the families but they are still coming up with the funds to pay him.

The Kiribati government has also been under fire for refusing to release an investigation report into the disaster.

Mr Neneia said the families of the victims had lost confidence in local lawyers in Kiribati because they had close ties to the government.

"We locals tend to have that tendency of being lenient or in the worst scenario, totally shying away from court altogether and calling it quits should we or our lawyer knows those to be sued," he said in an email.

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