#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Guilty verdicts in sinking of former Fiji vessel

Friday, April 1, 2011

Guilty verdicts in sinking of former Fiji vessel

ASHIKA: Sold by Fiji's Patterson Brothers Shipping Company to Tonga in 2009. Below: The grave of the 74 dead.

Four men and the shipping company charged over the sinking of the former Fiji vessel, the Princess Ashika, have been found guilty.

74 people, many of them women and children still sleeping below deck, died in the tragedy and their bodies remain entombed in the Ashika in Tongan waters. 
The men found guilty for the deaths include the New Zealander, John Jonesse, who was chief executive of the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia.
The other three were Tongan workers; the Ashika's captain, Maka Tuputupu; its first mate, Semisi Pomale; and a former director of the Tongan ministry of transport, Viliami Tu'ipulotu.
The Ashika was sold to the Tongan government by the Fiji shipping company, the Patterson Brothers. 

George Patterson (pictured above) was interviewed over the sale last year but maintained his company was not responsible for selling an unseaworthy vessel.

He made FI$600,000 from the sale, even though the Ashika was later revealed to be only good for scrap metal. 

Patterson told media it was the choice of the Tongan government to buy the ship at that price. “Well, that's their judgement,” he told TV3. “"We put up a price. If they are happy with it then they go along and purchase it.”

He said the vessel's seaworthiness was not an issue. “At the end of the day it's their judgement. I told them, ‘What you see is what you get.’”

The Ashika flooded with water every time it made a trip but Patterson claimed that when he sold the ferry, he didn't know where it would be sailed. 

“It was running, but running in sheltered waters. I didn't know it was going to run in open oceans around Tonga.”

In 2003, another vessel owned by Patterson Brothers Shipping sank. An inquiry criticised the company for ignoring signs of hull weakness, but Patterson blamed the crew.

“If you have a sloppy captain and a sloppy crew on board, what else do you expect?”

Patterson couldn't be forced to give evidence before the Royal Commission of Inquiry in Tonga. 

Fiji is outside the commission's jurisdiction, and although he was invited to take part, not surprisingly, he didn't respond.

Editor's Note (Monday April 4): Jonesse was  sentenced today to five years jail,
Tu'ipulotu to a three-year suspended sentence, Tuputupu was jailed for four years, but will only have to serve six months and Pomale was jailed for five years, but will only serve 18 months. The Shipping Corporation of Polynesia has been ordered to pay $US1.07 million in fines.


Sweet Dreams George... said...

Cold hearted cop out from an obviously cold hearted man.

Trust you enjoy your $600K you money faced arsehole.

onefala said...

trues up. disgracefully irresponsible all round

Coup 4.5 said...

Comment was posted (and killed accidentally) saying Pio Tikoduadua is ill and has been evacuated to China. We have no information at this stage; only what was posted by Anon at 6.50PM

mark manning said...

The lives of women and children is very cheap these days in Fiji !

Anonymous said...

Dont blame George Patterson.
I have known George to be a honest operator. The operators in Tonga are to be blamed for using the vessel in open waters. The Pattersons have been operating vessels for three Generations they know what human lives are worth.

Anonymous Obviously said...

It is true about Pio. He has a Melanoma on his neck and has gone to China for treatment.

Cancer is a common disease amongst the supporters of Baini’sArse. Sharon has been having treatment for cancer in Australia since December. You will all be pleased to know that she is recovering well and is due back to the Ministry of Misinformation this month.

Mary Bigmarama (in her dreams) is also suffering from cancer of the colon. All that Aiyarse licking must have taken its toll.

And we all know about Frank’s Hospital dash in November.

It is a SICK regime.

Sweet Dreams George... said...

Don't blame George Patterson?

"an honest operator - Pattersons know what human lives are worth".

Well according to the Pattersons own unique scale of human calculations - 74 Tongan mainly woman & children are worth exactly $6ook FD. Disgraceful.

Anonymous said...

Come on guys. Stop blaming george for this. They are honest operators. Typical ......let's blame the rich guys.

mark manning said...

Stress from lies can manifest itself in insidious ways !

Sweet Dreams George... said...

"stop blaming George for this?"

So where does the buck stop? Who do we blame? 74 innocent souls who perished because of cynical greed?

They (he) knowingly sold an unseaworthy passenger vessel to Tonga? Please inform what part of selling an "unseaworthy passenger vessel" you (Pattersons)don't understand?

Something they (he) will have too live with for the ret of their miserable lives - stick with original analysts

"money faced arsehole".

Greed & Power said...

Selling their junk to Tonga knowing fully well that the UNFIT FERRY was to be used to ferry people across Tongan waters makes the Pattersons GREEDY, UNETHICAL SCUMS OF THE EARTH!

They will have to live with that - 74 human lives for $600k!!

Just see what greed and power can do! They are no better than the greedy Tongan scums who failed to carry out their due diligence before purchasing the ferry.

Anonymous said...

Sue the damn idiots!

Anonymous said...

George Patterson would be the root cause of the mishap in Tonga!

Mr. George, you cunningness will haunt you and your business!....Arent you aware of it? Well, have you seen somebody to build a shipping empire from an exisiting one? Ask the brilliant Ben Naidu, former Patterson Brothers Shiiping employee.

Memu sici...ona oti mai tagane!

Anonymous said...

Bainimarama should have given evidence at the Ashika Inquiry and Trial too since the Fiji cabinet made a special approval for the sale of the ashika to the Tongan government. Fat cat illegal ministers should be investigated. The Ashika was decommissioned by Patterson once declared unseaworthy by the Marine Department. Then Sevele came knocking and Frank made sure the Ashika was certified seaworthy again to sail to Tonga on the open seas by Patterson Brothers. Savela and Bainimagaitinana need to be hanged for this one too.

Anonymous said...

Sadly lives were lost (God grant them peace), look at the issues, not the individuals...we must learn not to cry over spilt milk but rather how best to clean the mess that has been created...tell me who has not made a mistake in their entire lives...God bless us all.

Anonymous said...


The Tongan PM at the time, Fred Sevele, was a schoolmate of George in Levuka.
It was a friendly deal probably with the Friendly islanders.

Who's responsible of that tragedy? well... at the end of the day, passengers know they
are putting their lives at risk as soon as they board a boat in the Pacific.

Poor standards.

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