21 Mar 2011

Final submissions in Tonga ferry manslaughter trial

8:00 pm on 21 March 2011

The trial of four men accused of manslaughter following the sinking of the Tonga inter-island ferry, MV Princess Ashika, is approaching its conclusion, with final submissions now being heard.

74 people died when the ferry sank on August the 5th in 2009.

On trial are New Zealander, John Jonesse, the ship's captain, Maka Tuputupu, the first mate, Semisi Pomale and the former Ministry of Transportation director Viliami Tu'ipulotu.

The company that owned the Ashika, the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia, which was headed by Mr Jonesse, is also on trial.

The defendants collectively face 30 counts including one charge each of manslaughter by negligence in relation to the death of Vaefetu'u Mahe, whose body was one of just two recovered after the sinking.

The seven assessors are expected to begin their deliberations later this week.