JONESSE APPEALS TONGA FERRY DISASTER

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CONVICTION
Shipping company executive sentenced to five years prison

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Sept. 19, 2011) – Tonga's Second Court of Appeal Session begins in Nuku'alofa today Monday, September 19 and will hear 13 appeals, including an appeal by former Shipping Corporation of Polynesia (SCP) Managing Director John Jonesse against his conviction and sentencing imposed at the end of the Ashika ferry sinking trial in April.

Jonesse (62) a New Zealander was sentenced to server five years in Hu'atolitoli Prison with no suspension, on eight counts, including one of manslaughter by negligence, five counts of sending an unseaworthy ship to sea, forgery, and knowingly dealing with a forged document in relation to an Audit Report by David Shaw by Justice Robert Shuster on April 4.

His appeal is expected to be the first out of the 13 appeals to be heard by the Court of Appeal judges.

The Ashika ferry operator Shipping Corporation of Polynesia Ltd. is also appealing against sentence in which they were fined a total of $2 million in fines.

The Crown, meanwhile, has appeals against sentences imposed on both the Ashika captain Viliami Tuputupu and first mate Semisi Pomale.

Capt. Tuputupu was sentenced to four years imprisonment, with suspension for three and half years, meaning that he serves only six months for six counts, including one of manslaughter by negligence and five counts of taking an unseaworthy ship to sea.

Semisi Pomale was sentenced to five years imprisonment with suspension for three and a half years, which means he will serve 18 months on one count of manslaughter by negligence.

Their sentences were then imposed by Justice Robert Shuster on April 4.

The presiding Appeal judges will be Justice Peter Salmon, Justice James Burchett and Justice Michael Moore and judgments are expected to be delivered on September 30.

The first session of Tonga's Court of Appeal for 2011 was held in April.

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