Rabaul Shipping Manager Finally Faces Trial Over Ferry Sinking

admin's picture

Sharp charged with deaths of 171 in MV Rabaul Queen sinking

By Grace Tiden

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 10, 2015) – Peter Sharp, the man in the centre of Papua New Guinea’s worst maritime disaster, has been committed to stand trial.

Sharp, the managing director of Rabaul Shipping, and four others had appeared before a half-empty Kokopo Committal courtroom yesterday afternoon to hear of their committal by magistrate Oakaiva Oiveka.

However, only four of them would stand trial in the National Court over the 2012 tragic sinking of the overloaded coastal ferry MV Rabaul Queen in rough seas in Morobe Province waters on its way to Lae, killing 171 people on board.

In the dock with Sharp yesterday were Rabaul Queen captain Anthony Tsiau, chief mate Michael Zirau, former PNG Ports Kimbe branch port manager Grace Amen and National Maritime Safety Authority Rabaul manager Joseph Titus Kabiu.

They were charged with 171 counts of manslaughter and for sending an unseaworthy vessel out to sea under sections 302 and 331 of the Criminal Code.

However, charges against Kabiu were dropped by the court because of insufficient evidence.

Sharp and the three were committed under Section 95 of the District Court Act after the court found that the evidence was sufficient to warrant a committal.

Mr Oiveka made his ruling and refused an application by the defence lawyers to strike out the charges of manslaughter against the defendants due to the ambiguity state of the charges.

A date is yet to be set for the trial.

On the same police file, two people had already been committed for trial in the National Court in Madang and Kimbe over the tragedy. However, NMSA Kimbe manager Benjamin Livinai passed way in June last year.

The passenger ferry was carrying about 350 passengers bound for Lae when it sank on February 2, 2012, and around 171 people, including students and children, perished off the Finschhafen coast.

Investigations into this tragic incident started in February 2013.

The Rabaul Queen investigation team led by Chief Inspector Ben Turi arrested Sharp and six other people in late 2013. Mr Turi said it has taken a long time for the case to reach this stage.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment