1 Jun 2012

PNG ferry probe lawyer criticised by ship owner

1:53 pm on 1 June 2012

The owner of the Papua New Guinea ferry, Rabaul Queen, has accused the lawyer assisting the commission of inquiry into its sinking of behaving as if everyone is already on trial.

The Commission has two days of testimony next week as it considers the causes of the sinking, in which more than 200 people are believed to have died.

Megan Whelan reports

"Captain Sharp reiterated to the Commission that the only thing he has learned from the inquiry is that people lie. When asked if he believed the Rabaul Queen's captain lied under oath, he said the lawyer assisting the commission, Manuel Varitimos, had put people under a lot of pressure. Captain Sharp said Mr Varitimos wasn't asking questions as one would think in a Commission and that it is almost as if everyone was on trial already. He says the captain was not feeling very comfortable and would have said anything just to get off the stand. Captain Sharp also admitted that his belief that the Rabaul Queen could carry 350 passengers, and not the 295 it was licensed to carry, was an error."