May 19, 2019

Princess Ashika sinking accused guilty of manslaughter

The MV Princess Ashika - from a distance she looks fine, but up close she had more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. A tale of tragic incompetence.

All four men accused of manslaughter in the trial over the sinking of the Tongan Ferry, Princess Ashika have been found guilty by a jury in Nuku’alofa.

New Zealander, John Jonesse was charged along with ferry captain Makahokovalu Tuputupu, first mate Semisi Pomale and former Ministry of Transportation director Viliami Tu’ipulotu.

Jonesse was the Chief Executive of the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia who operated the ferry Princess Ashika. It sank in the Pacific, north of Nuku’alofa on 5th August 2009, with the loss of 74 lives.

Only two bodies were ever recovered. It was one of those, 21-year old Vae Fetu’u Taufa the manslaughter charges were attached too.

The four men have been remanded in police custody for sentencing on Monday by Justice Robert Shuster. The charge carries a maximum jail sentence of 10 years.

The Princess Ashika was 37 years old and in extremely poor condition.