25 Mar 2004

Tongan pro-democracy advocate pleads not-guilty

7:15 am on 25 March 2004

Tongan pro-democracy advocate Alan Taione, who lives in New Zealand, has pleaded not guilty to charges of distributing a banned publication when he appeared in the Nuku'alofa Magistrates Court.

On trial for handing out copies of the banned Auckland-based publication, the Taimi O Tonga, Taione has chosen to be tried by jury in the Supreme Court.

He is due back in court on May 5th when a trial date is to be set.

His lawyers are expected to base their defence on the argument that the Tongan government's new media rules are unconstitutional.