21 Jul 2010

Tonga ashika disaster trial begins today for four men

7:53 am on 21 July 2010

The manslaughter trial of four men charged with causing the death of a Tongan mother in the Princess Ashika ferry disaster begins in Nuku'alofa this morning.

74 people died when the ferry sank last August.

Richard Pamatatau reports.

"The managing director of the ferry company, New Zealander John Jonesse; as well as the ferry's captain and first mate and a senior public servant will appear in the Tonga Magistrates' court. They are charged with the manslaughter of 21 year old Vae Fetu'u Taufa, and sending and taking an unseaworthy ship to sea. Mr Jonesse is also charge with using a forged document. The possible penalties include up to twenty five years in jail."

Tonga's Police Commander says there may be more arrests as further evidence is gathered. Chris Kelly says once all the material is collected a legal opinion will be sought, and after that charges may be laid.