Maritime expert to give evidence in Sharp trial

Limited funding in the trial of the country’s worst maritime disaster, against Rabaul Shipping owner, Peter Sharp will see only a selected number of witnesses brought to Kokopo for the remainder of the trial.

Amongst those selected witnesses who will be brought to Kokopo is an Australian maritime expert, Martin Renilson.

Renilson is scheduled to give evidence next month (Oct 17) during the trial at the Kokopo National Court.

Leading state prosecutor Paul Banister, who is heading the trial, made known to the court early this week that funding is yet to be made available for more witnesses to be brought to Kokopo.

The State is now prioritising funds for key witnesses in the trial, one of which is Renilson.

The State has so far called over 83 witnesses to give evidences and has also presented over 50 documents as evidences against Sharp.

Owner of Rabaul Shipping, Sharp, and captain of the MV Rabaul Queen, Anthony Matasir Tsiau, are standing trial three years on since the country’s worst maritime disaster which saw the MV Rabaul Queen sink on February 2, 2012, off the coast of Finschhafen, Morobe Province.

They are standing trial on 88 counts of manslaughter and sending an unworthy ship to sea.

Initially at the District Court, Sharp and Tsiau were facing 172 counts of manslaughter, and sending an unworthy ship to sea, for the lives lost on the MV Rabaul Queen. The charges were amended when the trial commenced in Kokopo on April 11.

Trial judge Justice Terrence Higgins made an order to amend the indictments (charge) for Sharp and Tsiau to answer to charges of only 88 counts of the manslaughter of the people who perished, and not 172 as presented by the Public Prosecution.

More than 172 people perished in the ferry disaster on Feb 2, 2012.

(File picture of Kokopo National Court house.)

Sally Pokiton