Home > Corruption, Human rights, Papua New Guinea > Australians to assist with probe on ferry disaster

Australians to assist with probe on ferry disaster

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

By Peter Martinez

THE Commission of Inquiry into the sinking of the mv Rabaul Queen ferry has confirmed it will be assisted by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau but will bring a wealth of experience to the table themselves.

The commission, headed by Australian judge Warwick Andrew, will be assisted by Port Moresby-based lawyers Manuel Varitimos and Emanuel Asigau.

It had not decided when it would hold its hearings – probably in Waigani, Buka, Kokopo, Kimbe and Lae – but would announce its schedule shortly.

Andrew and Varitimos were both involved in the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the 2009 sinking of the Tongan ferry mv Princess Ashika in which 74 lives were lost.

Varitimos said response to the commission’s appeal for information regarding the sinking of the ferry, which could claim up to  200 lives on Feb 2, had been positive. The commission’s hearings would be open to the public.

“The commission is trying to arrange a transcription service with a view to posting it on a website, similar to what was done in Tonga,” Varitimos said.

“The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will assist the commission.”

A spokesman for the ATSB said from Canberra the bureau would not be conducting investigations separately from the commission of inquiry.

“Initially, we are sending two marine casualty investigators (the ATSB does not identify ATSB team-members by name) to assist the commission of inquiry.”

Among the terms of reference that the commission has been asked to report on is any evidence indicating whether any criminal act contributed to the disaster, and whether there is evidence of any civil responsibility. It has been asked to determine why so many died.

Two hundred and thirty-seven survivors were rescued in the hours after the sinking but no more turned up in the two weeks the search operation lasted. Only four bodies were recovered.

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  1. May 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm

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