THE individuals facing charges in relation to the MV Taimareho incident that claimed the lives of 27 passengers in April last year are still to plea to the charges against them.
They are vessel master Michael Roy Galo, captains Joe Malepa and Stephen Waina’ai, WAC Shipping Community Limited directors Esther Hoasihere, John Bosco Houanihau, Lawrence Hunumeme, Stephen Ma’ahanua, Aaron Oritaimae, William Papairato, Aloysius Poiohia and the shipping company’s former general manager Cypriano Ta’amora.
Their matter was brought before the High Court yesterday and was further adjourned to 1.30pm August 21st 2021 when the court expected them to enter their pleas to charges against them.
They are charged with more than 100 offences under the Shipping Act 1998. All these offences are punishable by fine.
Some of the charges include; sending an unsafe vessel to sea, vessel going to sea without valid certificates, taking an unsafe vessel to sea, failing to keep an official work book, failing to notify principles avail of change in condition of a vessel, failing to comply with a requirement of the international convention of standards, training, certification and watch keeping for sea farers, and overloading.
Twenty-seven people on board MV Taimareho lost their lives in extremely rough seas that associated with Cyclone Harold in the early hours of April 3rd 2020.
MV Taimareho left Honiara with 738 passengers on Thursday night of April 2nd 2020 despite warnings issued by SI Maritime Authority advising vessels not to travel to the provinces due to Cyclone Harold.
The government in March last year came up with a repatriation plan amid fears of the COVID-19 which saw a number of people in Honiara leaving for the provinces.
The 27 who lost their lives were swept overboard when giant waves swept through the ship in the early hours of April 3rd 2020.
They were mostly high school students.
Only six bodies were recovered so far.
Prosecution alleged that all the accused persons had not complied with the Shipping Act and the Maritime Convention which led to the death of the 27 passengers.
They also alleged that there were many things wrong with the ship at that time and that the weather conditions were also not good on that day.
Private lawyer James Apaniai represents all accused except for Galo who is represented by the Public Solicitor’s Office.
The Director of the Public Prosecution (DPP) is prosecuting this matter on behalf of the Solomon Islands Maritime Authority (SIMA).
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN BONGIDANI