Accused turns state witness

The National,Wednesday June 15th, 2016

THE mv Rabaul Queen ferry trial resumed yesterday at the Kokopo National Court with an official from National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) giving evidence.
Carl Kamang, the Madang branch manager for NMSA, also an accused in the case, gave evidence as a state witness during the trial.
According to state prosecutors, he was issued a conditional grant of immunity recently to give evidence in court although his charge of manslaughter remained and he would face trial.
Kamang was the only witness called up yesterday.
During cross examination bythe state and defence lawyers, questions posed to him focused on the status of the vessel while it was undergoing maintenance at the Madang Slipway on Oct 19, 2011.
Kamang has been employed by NMSA since May 2007.
His role on Oct 19 as master inspector was to inspect the Rabaul Queen and make a report to the owner, Capt Peter Sharp, about defects.
Kamang told the court that during inspection, he had asked Capt Anthony Tsiau, the vessel’s captain, to brief him after maintenance was done.
He said Tsiau did not get back to him and he noticed the vessel had set sail the next morning.
State lawyer Paul Bannister said Kamang’s conversation with Tsiau during inspection to keep in touch with him was contained in his police statement.
The trial was adjourned to 9.30 this morning, with weatherman Jimmy Gamoga from the National Weather Service to give evidence.
Arresting officer chief superintendent Benjamin Turi said Benjamin Samson from PNG Ports in Lae and another official from the Angau Hospital in Lae were expected to give evidence this week.
“With officers from Government departments, we are urging their employers to fund their travel to Kokopo while we still wait for the Government to come good with funding to bring in witnesses from Kimbe, Lae and Buka,” Turi said.
The ferry sank off Finschhafen, Morobe on Feb 2, 2012 and at least172 people remained unaccounted for or presumed dead.
The ferry was carrying 300 passengers when it hit rough seas and capsized.
Justice Terrence Higgins is presiding over the case in which Sharp and Tsaiu faced multiple manslaughter charges.