Senior govt officials told to appear at ferry trial

National

By ABIGAIL PHOEBE
FOUR senior public servants have been summoned to explain to the national court in Kokopo why the Government has not allocated enough funding for the mv Rabaul Queen disaster trial.
Justice Terence Higgins last Wednesday ordered that Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari, Finance Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan, Treasury Secretary Dairi Vele and Justice Secretary Dr Lawrence Kalinoe appear in the Kokopo court on Nov 30.
Lawyer Lukara Rangan, appearing on behalf of State prosecutor Paul Bannister, raised the issue on the funding constraint faced by the Government on Oct 21.
Rangan produced an affidavit sworn by arresting officer Chief Inspector Benjamin Turi explaining the State’s financial status on the case. Turi indicated that State witnesses could not be brought to Kokopo because of the lack of funds.
Turi also indicated a commitment by the Government made in Parliament during the October sitting to make available K150,000. But this is yet to be done.
On trial are Captain Peter Sharp and Anthony Tsiau both facing 172 charges of manslaughter and for sending and taking an unseaworthy vessel out to sea. So far, 90 witnesses have testified with more than 60 court exhibits tendered in court.
The ferry sank off Finschhafen, Morobe, on Feb 2, 2012, and 172 people, including children, were killed in the incident.

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