4 May 2007

Tongan conciliator highlights rule of law amid trial-related clamour

2:16 pm on 4 May 2007

The Tongan government says media-based attacks on court processes and emergency laws relating to the November riots fail to recognise the importance of the rule of law.

The Ministry of Justice has also criticised what it describes as personal attacks against the Minister and Attorney General, 'Alisi Taumoepeau, about the riot prosecution.

Public concern has been voiced about the lengthy delays before preliminary inquiries for the most serious cases stemming from the riots could be heard.

Deposition hearings for those cases began this week, including for murder and sedition charges, while prosecutions of other related offences continue.

30 convictions have been made in the Magistrate Court, with two acquittals.

The government's new adviser on Reconciliation and Civic Education, Viliami Afeaki, says the process has to be respected.

"We need to uphold the rule of law, and such those cases would actually have to go through, yes, there would be a closure when those cases are finished."

Viliami Afeaki