TONGA SUSPENDS NEW ZEALAND FERRY BOSS

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Jonesse told authorities ship was in good shape

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Radio Australia, Nov. 9, 2009) –A New Zealand man who ran the shipping company operating the ferry that sank off Tonga earlier this year has been stood down.

74 people were killed when the Princess Ashika capsized in August.

The inquiry into the ferry disaster has been underway in the Tongan capital Nuku'alofa for two weeks.

Former Christchurch businessman John Jonesse has been suspended on full pay from his role as managing director of the government owned Shipping Corporation of Polynesia.

He's also been told to find a new lawyer.

Mr Jonesse has admitted repairs hadn't been done on the ferry before its final voyage.

At least 40 faults had been identified including holes and rust, but Mr Jonesse said at the hearing he was never given a time frame.

The inquiry heard Mr Jonesse was the only person to inspect the Princess Ashika before it was bought from Fiji.

He had told the Tongan government the ferry was in good working order.

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