Hong Kong: No Further Prosecutions over Lamma Ferry Tragedy

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen said it is unlikely that anybody else will be prosecuted over the 2012 Lamma ferry tragedy in which 39 people died, including the Marine Department employees involved in the incident, due to a lack of evidence.

Speaking to the media after meeting the victims’ families on September 30, Yuen said this conclusion has been agreed by the external independent Senior Counsel Andrew Bruce, after examining all the evidence on the case.

Yuen also said the Department of Justice must stick with the Prosecution Code, which requires that evidence demonstrate a reasonable prospect of conviction before a prosecution is made. If further evidence is available, the department will examine it and consider whether a prosecution is viable.

On the Transport & Housing Bureau internal investigation report which the families of the victims had requested to see, Yuen said that Hong Kong’s  government has agreed to re-examine whether it can disclose its findings, and will reply to the families within a month.

The report has recommended disciplinary action against 13 officers and the department has provided legal advice on the Civil Service Bureau’s request, he said. The inquiry for one of the officers has already started.

Back in February, the Hong Kong Court’s Justice Brian Keith sentenced Lai Sai-ming, the captain of the Sea Smooth ferry, to eight years in prison on the charges of manslaughter and endangering the safety of others at sea in the collision with Lamma IV ferry on October 1, 2012.

Chow Chi-wai, the captain of the Lamma IV, was sentenced to nine months in prison after the jury found him guilty of endangering the safety of others at sea. He was cleared of the manslaughter charges.

Yesterday, the government released the Commission of Inquiry’s full report into the collision.

The commission submitted the report to the Chief Executive on April 19, 2013, and as manslaughter charges had been laid against two captains involved in the incident at that time, the government, having sought legal advice, decided to redact those parts of the report relating to issues concerning the responsibilities of the two captains so criminal proceedings would not be affected.

Since all criminal proceedings that the report might have affected have been concluded, the government, having considered legal advice, has uploaded the full unredacted report to its website.