Zanzibar's High Court acquitted 12 people on Tuesday (July 1st) of 229 counts of manslaughter in connection with the deaths of more than 200 people when the MV Spice Islander ferry sank in 2011, Tanzania's The Citizen reported.
Zanzibar Chief Justice Omar Othman Makungu threw out the charges after the prosecution requested amendments to the charge sheet for the fourth time.
"Investigations were supposed to have been completed in the first four months, but the prosecution failed to do that, and ended up amending the charge sheet three times in the past two years," Makungu said. "This is not a new case...the prosecution have had plenty of time, and yet they have failed even to submit a complete charge sheet. The court thus sets all the accused free."
Makungu chided the prosecution for failing to speedily investigate the case despite the harsh bail conditions imposed on those charged.
The MV Spice Islander was carrying 2,470 passengers, four times its recommended capacity, when it capsized September 10, 2011. The accused were charged with failing to take appropriate precautions.