31 Aug 2009

Public hearings into Tongan ferry tragedy to start soon

3:34 pm on 31 August 2009

The head of Tonga's Royal Commission of Inquiry into this month's sinking of the Princess Ashika ferry, says it plans to start holding public hearings in a few weeks.

Justice Warwick Andrews says the commission has also begun obtaining evidence and carrying out investigations into all of the causes and circumstances of the sinking.

As well as finding the cause of the tragedy, the commission is charged with gathering evidence of any criminal act that contributed to it, and evidence of civil responsibility.

The New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau are helping with the investigations.

The commission must produce an initial report by the end of November and a final report by the end of March next year.