21 May 2008

Lawyer questions disparity in aid support for Tonga riot trials

3:47 pm on 21 May 2008

An Auckland lawyer says the New Zealand or Australian government needs to front up with more money to help with the defence of those involved in the 2006 Tongan riot.

More than 600 people were arrested, and 4 people are due to go on trial next month on 8 charges of murder

The New Zealand aid agency, NZAID, says it provided just over one hundred thousand US dollars to support the costs of prosecution lawyers, and around 50 thousand to the Tonga Law Society for the defence.

It says the disparity is that prosecutors are engaged at an earlier point in the process, so have a higher workload.

Nalesoni Tupou says that's not true, and the result is an injustice.

"The Tongan Law Society has never received any money at all from New Zealand aid or the New Zealand government at all. The aid money from the New Zealand government was sent through the judiciary department of the government of Tonga and it has been over-looked by the Crown Law Office, or the Minister of Justice in Tonga."

Nalesoni Tupou says the 50-thousand would have been spent several times over by now.