Monday, 4 April 2011 9:18 AM

Ashika Jury Decides Guilty Verdict for All

The jury for the case of the MV Princess Ashika, which tragically sunk in 2009 claiming 74 lives, decided on guilty verdicts for the four men charged over the incident.

According to the Matangi Tonga Online, the verdict was delievered to the Nuku'alofa Supreme Court at 10:20 am on Friday.

'The four men charged with manslaughter by negligence and other charges relating to the sinking of the MV Princess Ashika ferry are remanded in police custody for sentencing by Mr Justice Shuster on Monday 4 April'.

Five defendants in total were convicted, according to the report, including the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia Ltd. (6 charges), Acting Director of Marine Viliami Tu'ipulotu (6 charges), former SCP Managing Director John Jonesse (8 charges), the Ashika captain Viliami Makahokovalu Tuputupu (6 charges) and first mate Semisi Pomale (1 charge).

'Along with the ferry operator, they collectively faced 27 charges including sending and taking an unseaworthy ship to sea in regards to the Ashika's five voyages, with one similar count of manslaughter by negligence in relation to the death of Vaefetu'u Mahe (22) whose body was one of only two recovered after the sinking of vessel on August 5, 2009. A total of 74 passengers and crew died in the sinking of the MV Princess Ashika, including all of the women and children on board.'

According to the report, the jury deliberated for 10 hours before passing their verdict.

The MV Princess Ashika sunk in Tongan waters after sending out a distress call around 11 pm on August 5th and of the 74 lives claimed, only 2 bodies were recovered.
A Remote Underwater Operating Vehicle sent down to examine the wreck found evidence of the human lives lost during the tragedy.

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