The inspector of the Hong Kong ferry Lamma IV has pleaded not guilty to perjury over his claim that that he saw an adequate number of children’s life vests on board the vessel.
The Hong Kong Electric ferry collided with another ferry, Sea Smooth, on October 1, 2012, claiming 39 lives, including eight children, and injuring 92.
The Lamma IV was full of the company’s employees and families on a trip to see the National Day fireworks display in Victoria Harbour.
Wong Kam-ching, now retired from the Marine Department, appeared in Hong Kong’s District Court in Wan Chai on Wednesday.
Wong stated that, five months before the crash, he had seen and counted the vests, despite a counter claim made by Hong Kong Electric that there were no children’s life vests on board.
At the time of the accident, there were 32 children on board, more than the number of children’s life vests that were required to be carried. The lack of vests was considered to have played a contributing part in the loss of children’s lives.
Wong’s trial is expected to take around two weeks.
In November 2015, two Court of Appeal judges blocked a bid to reduce the sentence handed to the captain of Sea Smooth, saying the court had a duty to remind those in charge of vehicles of their responsibilities to their passengers.
Lai Sai-ming was convicted of manslaughter and endangering the safety of others at sea in February 2015 and was jailed for eight years.
Lamma IV captain Chow Chi-wai was acquitted of manslaughter but convicted of endangering safety and jailed for nine months.