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Maria Luisa: Justice Denied – Family Despondent

Maria Luisa: Justice Denied – Family Despondent

“Justice for the family of the five men who died on the Maria Luisa when the Sydney Express collided into her seems to be non-existent,” said New Zealand First deputy leader, Peter Brown.

“The family of the men are now so despondent I have been informed they are considering calling a halt to the whole thing. That is disappointing because it means, in regard to this maritime collision, unfairness and injustice win the day.

“Mr Kilvington and the Maritime Safety Authority have been very effective in shutting this issue down.

“We now know as a result of Captain Webb’s review, that he was as independent a reviewer as anyone can be who is continually engaged on short-term contracts with the MSA. In my view, that is not independent in any shape or form.

“However, we now know, as a result of Webb’s review, that the Transport Accident Investigation Commission relayed crucial information to the MSA well before that organization released its first report on the collision in 1997.

“That is a total ‘no no’ as TAIC collects its information on a ‘no fault, no blame’ basis and a clear understanding that nobody will be prosecuted. By having such evidence, the MSA (and the Police?) would have been in a position where they could not possibly consider prosecuting anybody. In short, their positions were compromised and clearly the investigations were not independent.

“We have known for some considerable time the Sydney Express was guilty of numerous misdemeanors but nobody has proven anything against the Maria Luisa.

“We accept that there has been conflicting evidence, which is why everything should be tabled at a formal hearing and critically examined. It is absolutely unjust for a group of supposed experts to make decisions on what they think is relevant and ignore other evidence.

“For the Deputy Coroner at the time to refuse to conduct an inquest on the basis that there were two independent enquiries - which we now know were not independent - and to be advised by a long time executive of the Merchant Service Guild (the Ships Officers’ Union) is outrageous.

“The family of these men are entitled to justice. They are entitled to have a say in the process. No official or group of investigators should, in these circumstances be able to overrule or withhold such entitlement. To do so, to my mind, distorts and withholds justice.

“The position right now, as far as the family members and their advisers are concerned, is unclear. Hopefully, in the next few days we will be meeting. Hopefully also, they will rethink the position and agree to fight on for justice and fairness,“ said Mr Brown.

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