23 Mar 2012

Bougainville leader says ship owner ignorant in not meeting compensation demand

2:46 pm on 23 March 2012

The president of the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville says the owner of the three ships destroyed in Buka harbour last weekend behaved ignorantly by refusing to pay compensation.

Peter Sharp also owns the Rabaul Queen which sank off Morobe on February the 2nd with huge loss of life, including many from Bougainville.

Grieving relatives and ex-combatants had commandeered the ships and called on Mr Sharp to pay compensation.

Mr Sharp says those involved were criminals and he attributes the loss of the ships to government inaction but the president John Momis says Mr Sharp's failure to pay compensation showed an ignorance of custom.

"When somebody dies like that the first thing you do is to pay some money up front to put the relatives at peace and to allow the processes to take place, which Peter Sharp failed to do."