Justice for victims

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PM Manasseh Sogavare
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Government to find out the truth of boat tragedy: Sogavare

By EDDIE OSIFELO

PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare has assured families of the 27 passengers who were washed overboard MV Taimareho between Guadalcanal and Malaita on April 3 that government will get to the bottom of the issue.

Mr Sogavare made this assurance when he winded the motion to extend the State of Public Emergency to four months in Parliament yesterday.

He said the government will get to the bottom without any further delay.

The government has launched two separate investigations into this incident.

The first investigation comprises a two-part investigation by the Solomon Islands Maritime Safety Administration (SIMSA).

The first part is already commenced – the preliminary investigation into the tragic incident in which the 27 passengers were washed overboard from MV Taimareho. A Marine Investigation Officer has been appointed by the Director of SIMSA in accordance with the Shipping Act 1998, and Shipping (Marine Inquiries and Investigations) Regulations 2011.

The second part involves the Commissioning of a ‘Board of Marine Inquiry’ by the Minister under the Act to conduct a formal enquiry into the incident.  The Board of Marine Enquiry will commence its work following the appointment by the Minister of its Chairperson and two members.

The second investigation is criminal investigation commissioned by the Commissioner of Police as a result of suspicious deaths. This will involve interviews of passengers, crews, shipping company and other persons or bodies of interest to establish facts resulting in suspicious deaths.

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These investigations will look into the legality of certain actions or decisions taken or not taken leading to the ship departing Honiara on the night of 2nd April 2020. It will also look into the incident itself and the post-incident activities. The findings and recommendations of these investigations will be presented to the relevant authorities.

These two investigations will provide adequate assurance into the cause of the incident.

Sogavare said some people are calling for Commission of Inquiry in social media, how he said it will take lengthy period before answers are made.

He said there is not time for finger pointing or blame any persons because what happens is a tragedy due to astronomical proportion.

Sogavare said it was wrong for certain speakers to imply that the incident was a direct consequence for the government’s call for people to return to their provinces as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19.

He said it was also wrong that the people who lost are the first victims of COVID-19.

“We really need to correct that, at this time and at such circumstances; I find that kind of statement quite disconcerting.

“Such statements too early until all the facts have been established,” he said.

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