8 Feb 2011

Jurors dismissed from Princess Ashika trial

11:50 am on 8 February 2011

The jury in the Princess Ashika manslaughter trial in Tonga has been dismissed, a day into the hearing.

Prosecutors were due to open their case on Tuesday morning against the four men charged with manslaughter by negligence over the deaths of 74 people in the ferry sinking in August 2009.

The accused include New Zealander John Jonesse.

The Shipping Corporation of Polynesia is also charged.

It emerged on Tuesday morning that one of the seven jurors has a previous conviction, from Tonga's riots in 2006.

The issue was raised with the judge, who has discharged the entire jury.

The Crown says it is disappointed by the trial's sudden collapse and says it believes it stems from a flaw in the jury system.

A new jury will be selected on Friday and the Crown will try to open its case again next Monday.

One of its prosecutors says he hopes the jury list can be screened before that is done.