PNG Ferry disaster – 7 charged
PORT MORESBY, PNG ---- Seven people have been charged in connection with the mv Rabaul Queen disaster in Papua New Guinea on 02 February last year.
According to a police investigation team, this now concludes the arrests of people implicated in the country’s worst maritime incident involving Rabaul Shipping’s mv Rabaul Queen.
The vessel sunk off the Finschhafen coast in Morobe, killing at least 162 people.
Police say the seven charged included officers from the National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) who had allegedly failed to play their part and were complacent for too long, resulting in the tragedy.
The owner and employees of Rabaul Shipping were charged for not adhering to weather reports from the National Weather Service and making sure the ferry was not overloaded.
The police team is now in Lae, Morobe, preparing and filing court papers for the seven defendants which would then be served onto their respective lawyers before court proceedings on Sept 26.
The seven are out on K5,000 (US$2,000) bail each.
They are Rabaul Shipping company owner captain Peter Sharp, captain Anthony Tsiau, chief mate to Tsiau – Michael Zirau, NMSA Kimbe manager – Michael Benjamin Livinai, Kimbe branch port manage – Grace Amen, NMSA Rabaul manager – Joseph Kabiu and NMSA Madang manager Carl Kamau.
Sharp, 69, is facing 162 counts of manslaughter and for sending an unseaworthy vessel out to sea.
Tsiau 54, from Nissan island in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and Zirau 47, from Manam Island in Madang were both charged with 162 manslaughter charges and taking an unseaworthy vessel out to sea.
Amen from Duke of York, Livinai from Misima in Miline Bay, Kabiu from Rabaul and Kamau from Turubu in East Sepik are all facing 162 manslaughter charges.
The Commission of Inquiry sanctioned by the Government found in Sept last year that mv Rabaul Queen was not seaworthy, unsafe, overloaded and should never have departed on its final voyage.
The commission found that weather and sea conditions at the time the ship capsized were gale force and it should not have been at sea.
The operator of mv Rabaul Queen was arrested last month. He had appeared before the Kokopo District Court on Aug 26 facing 162 manslaughter charges and one charge for sending an unworthy ship to sea.
The case was adjourned to allow police to complete their files.
A survivor said Sharp’s arrest was “long overdue” but would help with “the healing process.”
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