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FOUR people appeared in the High Court in Zanzibar on Friday charged with manslaughter in connection with the ferry disaster that claimed at least 203 lives last week.

The MV Spice Islanders ferry captain Said Abdallah Kinyanyite (58) and first mate Abdallah Mohamed Ali (30), the Zanzibar Port security officer Simai Nyange Simai (27) and an officer from the boat company- Yussuf Suleiman Jussa (47), were charged with negligence under section 236 of Zanzibar laws No 6/2004.

The captain was absent during the trial that was presided over by the Registrar of the Zanzibar High Court George Kazi who avoided to rush in accepting a bail application by the advocate of the four accused.

"This is a sensitive case; I hesitate to rush in deciding on bail. I will give my ruling on bail application next Monday and therefore I order the accused to be remanded," the Registrar said.

MV Spice Islanders capsized some 10 kilometres away from Nungwi Beach, on its way to Pemba Island on the night of September 9. The ferry is said to have been overloaded with passengers and cargo.

It is suspected that most of the 203 passengers were children, sleeping below decks at the time of accident. However, an official inquiry will follow to find out more about the accident.