26 Jan 2010

Counter claims abound at Inquiry into sinking of Tongan ferry

11:01 am on 26 January 2010

Tonga's former Minister of Justice Alisi Taumoepeau has begun giving evidence into The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the sinking of the Tongan ferry the Princess Ashika.

She is the first Tongan politician to appear before the commission probing the maritime disaster on August 5th last year which left 74 people dead.

Alisi Taumoepeau was the chairperson of the board of the vessel's owner, the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia Ltd, the secretary of which also gave testimony today.

Pesi Fonua, from Matangi Tonga Online, says the inquiry has been full of claims and counter claims about exactly who was responsible over the purchase of the vessel.

"Even though the government was buying the vessel, the board was supposed to be doing all the checking out of the seaworthiness, looking at all the documents and making sure everything was legal and following proper procedures. But of course, the board itself, the chairperson and the secretary, are kind of on different sides of the stick."

Pesi Fonua.