MV Taimareho captains, shipping directors, former GM face 102 charges
CAPTAINS of MV Taimareho and the shipping company’s directors and former General Manager (GM) had been charged with 102 charges under the Shipping Act following the incident that claimed the lives of 27 people last April.
The vessel’s Master is Michael Roy Galo while two Captains are Joe Malepa and Stephen Waina’ai.
The directors of the WAC Shipping Community Limited are Esther Hoasihere, John Bosco Houanihau, Lawrence Hunumeme, Stephen Ma’ahanua, Aaron Oritaimae, William Papairato, and Aloysius Poiohia while the shipping company’s former General Manager, Cypriano Ta’amora.
They are facing a total of 108 charges that were laid under the Shipping Act 1998.
All those offences are punishable by fine.
Some of the charges include, sending an unsafe vessel to sea, vessels going to sea without valid certificates, taking an unsafe vessel to sea, failing to keep an official workbook, 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 watchkeeping for seafarers, and overloading.
Their matter was mentioned at the High Court Wednesday and was further adjourned to June 28 at 1.30 pm for a possible plea.
They were supposed to take their pleas on Tuesday but two of the accused were not in court.
Private lawyer James Apaniai also asked for an adjournment to allow two of these clients to be present in court on the next court date.
He is representing all accused except Galo who is represented by the Public Solicitor’s George Gray.
Mr. Apaniai also told the court that he did not receive the disclosures because they were served on the WAC shipping company instead of the documents being served on him.
He asked the court for an order that the documents be served on him instead on the company, on which, the court granted that order.
Mr. Apaniai had also asked the court to order SIMA for copies of the relevant conventions be supplied to him.
He said the Solomon Islands is a party to various Maritime Conventions relating to shipping, etc and some of the charges have referred to a couple of those conventions but he does not have copies of those conventions.
The Director of Public Prosecutions Rachael Olutimayin raised concerns regarding bail for the 12 accused persons.
She said all accused are not in any form of police bail and that they have to enter into a police bail.
Ms Olutimayin also informed the court that the investigation into this matter is still very much open.
She said they are still getting statements from aggrieved families of those who perished during the sea tragedy.
Justice Maelyn Bird had agreed with her and then made orders for all accused to go back to the police and be given police bail.
Having heard from both counsels, Justice Bird adjourned the matter for possible bail on the next court date.
She also ordered that all accused enter into a police bail and for SIMA to serve the disclosures to Mr Apaniai and not to the Shipping Company’s office.
All accused are required to attend court on the next court date.
Twenty-seven people on board the MV Taimareho had lost their lives in extremely rough seas associated with Cyclone Harold in the early hours of April 3, last year.
The boat left Honiara with 738 passengers on Thursday night, April 2, when it encountered bad weather on the early hours on Friday.
Maritime had issued warnings advising vessels not to travel to the provinces due to Cyclone Harold.
The government in March had also come 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 3.
They are mostly high school students.
Only six bodies were recovered.
The 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 are also alleging that there were many things wrong with the ship and the weather conditions were also not good on that day.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN BONGIDANI