29 Mar 2011

Summing up begins in Tonga's Ashika trial

2:58 pm on 29 March 2011

Tonga judge, Justice Robert Shuster, has begun summing up in the trial of four men and a shipping company over the Princess Ashika disaster.

The inter island ferry sank in August 2009 with the loss of 74 lives.

The defendants are facing 31 charges, including manslaughter by negligence.

Falemaka Fihaki reports from Nuku'alofa:

"In summing up the biggest criminal case in the history of Tonga, Justice Shuster advised the panel of seven jurors to base their decision on the evidence presented by both parties during the trial. Referring to the defence electing to remain silent and not call witnesses, Justice Shuster says this is their lawful right and the jury should not hold this against them. He says they must be careful not base their decisions on speculation because that would be guessing and lead to inaccurate judgements. Justice Shuster's summing up will continue on Wednesday with the jury expected to complete its deliberations before the weekend."