4 face criminal charges in Tanzania ferry sinking

AP News
Posted: Sep 17, 2011 9:05 AM
4 face criminal charges in Tanzania ferry sinking

Tanzanian authorities have charged four men with negligence over a ferry sinking that cost more than 240 lives a week ago.

It's unclear how many passengers were aboard, but more than 800 people survived by clinging onto pieces of wood or crowding onto lifeboats.

"It is a relief to us to hear that a handful of people were charged, but we believe the real culprits remain untouched," said survivor Suleiman Malik. "We wish to see some big fish fished out and face the long arms of the law."

The ferry owner Yusuf Suleiman Jussa, 47, first officer Abdallah Mohamed Ali, 30, and Zanzibar Ports Authority employee Silima Nyange Silima, 27, all were charged with contravening the Maritime Act by allowing the heavily overloaded M.V. Spice Islander to leave port.

Captain Said Abdullah Kinyanyite, who remains missing, was charged in absentia.

Ramadhan Nassib from the Directorate of Public Prosecution said the four were responsible for the deaths after the ferry sank at night in an area of deep seas and strong currents.

The suspects were not allowed to enter a plea after the charges were read out to a packed courtroom late on Friday.