19 Jul 2007

Five people's representatives in Tonga plead not guility to criminal charges relating to riots

6:30 am on 19 July 2007

The five People's Representatives who face criminal charges relating to last November's riots in Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa, all pleaded not guilty to the charges in the Supreme Court.

The five, including veteran political activist Akilisi Pohiva and former police minister Clive Edwards, entered their pleas in court yesterday, ahead of a court trial which could start in late November.

Matangi Tonga online reports the charges included sedition, or encouraging rebellion against the government, and abetting disruption that caused the destruction of a number of buildings on November 16 last year.

Clive Edwards chose to be tried by a judge, while Akilisi Pohiva, Uliti Uata, Isileli Pulu and Lepolo Taunisila chose trial by jury.

Crown Prosecutor Peter Little told the court that the trial could take about three months and the prosecution would call 50 witnesses.