30 Sep 2011

Jailed NZ man wins Tonga ferry appeal

5:33 pm on 30 September 2011

A New Zealand man jailed for his role in the sinking of a Tongan ferry is a free man following a successful appeal against his conviction.

Mr Jonesse headed the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia, which owned the Princess Ashika that sank in 2009 causing the death of 74 people.

He was convicted on eight charges and sentenced to five years' jail for his part in the disaster but lodged an appeal in April this year, Radio New Zealand International reports.

Tonga's Court of Appeal's based its decision on the suspension of four-and-a-half years of the term and the fact Mr Jonesse has already been in jail for six months.

The former captain and first mate of the Ashika are also appealing against their convictions, while the Crown is appealing against what it considers the light sentences imposed.