21 Aug 2013

Owner of PNG's doomed Rabaul Queen ferry charged

4:22 am on 21 August 2013

The owner of the Rabaul Queen ferry which sank and killed more than 140 people off Papua New Guinea's Morobe coast in early 2012 has been charged with 162 counts of manslaughter.

Peter Sharp was arrested by police in Kokopo yesterday before charges were laid, including for criminal negligence and taking an unseaworthy ship to sea.

A commission of inquiry nearly a year ago found the ferry was unseaworthy, overloaded and should not have been sailing.

It said Peter Sharp showed gross disrespect by having passengers travel in inhumane conditions.

Police media spokesman Inspector David Terry says the police investigations took as long as they did because they needed to be meticulous and extensive.

"Statements were collected from witnesses in Rabaul, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Lae, Madang and Goroka. Mr Sharp was taken to the police station in Kokopo where he was formally charged, and he's now in police custody."

David Terry says Peter Sharp is due to appear in court today when his lawyers are expected to apply for bail.