1 Apr 2011

Tonga's Ashika convicted remanded in custody

11:06 am on 1 April 2011

The four men convicted in relation to the sinking of the Tonga inter-island ferry have been remanded in custody after being found guilty on all charges in relation to the disaster.

The four are John Jonesse, the New Zealander who'd been chief executive of the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia, the Ashika's captain Maka Tuputupu, his first mate Semisi Pomale and a former director of the ministry of transport, Viliami Tu'ipulotu.

The corporation was also convicted.

They've been convicted on 30 counts, including one 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.

The seven week long trial concluded this morning when the seven person panel of assessors announced their verdicts after just over a day of deliberations.

Tonga's solicitor general, Aminiasi Kefu, who led the prosecution case, says he's satisfied that the trial was successfully completed.

He says the four men convicted are likely to face terms - the maximum sentence in Tonga for someone convicted on manslaughter by negligence charges is ten years jail, while the Shipping company is likely to be fined.

Justicee Robert Shuster is due to hand down sentences on Monday.