30 Mar 2011

Verdict likely Thursday in Princess Ashika trial

6:24 pm on 30 March 2011

The judge in the Princess Ashika manslaughter trial in Tonga has asked the jury to consider what the crew said happened on the night of the ferry's sinking.

Seventy-four people died when the passenger ferry sank in August 2009.

The Shipping Corporation of Polynesia, its former director the New Zealander John Jonesse, Tonga's acting director of marine and the Ashika's skipper and first mate are all charged with manslaughter.

Radio New Zealand's correspondent in Tonga says Judge Robert Schuster, in his summing-up, also asked the jury to consider assessments carried out on the vessel.

A verdict is expected by the end of Thursday.

The defendants collectively face 31 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.