31 Mar 2011

Princess Ashika jury retires for night

8:07 pm on 31 March 2011

The jury in the Princess Ashika trial in Tonga has retired for the night.

It spent Thursday deliberating on the charges faced by four men and a shipping company over the ferry's sinking, in which 74 people drowned.

The four are John Jonesse, the New Zealander who'd been chief executive of the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia; the Ashika's captain, Maka Tuputupu; his first mate, Semisi Pomale; and a former director of the ministry of transport, Viliami Tu'ipulotu.

The corporation is also charged.

Collectively they 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 trial, which began on 11 February, is the biggest in Tongan history.