4 May 2010

Tonga Government says former Attorney General's claims malicious

8:28 am on 4 May 2010

Tonga's government has hit back at the country's former attorney general, saying his recent coments are deliberate fabrications designed to demonise the Government.

John Cauchi resigned last week, saying his resignation had been triggered by the government's appointment of a judge without his advice, and Cabinet's refusal to support the appointment of independent prosecutors for those charged in connection with the Ashika disaster.

In a letter to the editor of Matangi Tonga, the Government spokesman, Lopeti Senituli says the Government finds it incomprehensible that Mr Cauchi persists in claiming that the Attorney General and the Judicial Services Commission have a role in the appointment of Judges.

He says the appointment of Judges in Tonga, under the present Constitution, is the prerogative of His Majesty The King, with the consent of the Privy Council.

Lopeti Senituli also denies the claim that Cabinet had decided not to support the appointment of independent prosecutors to prosecute matters regarding the sinking of MV Ashika.

He says Cabinet's decision was to defer the appointments until estimates of required funds and other related issues are approved first.

He says the statements are a deliberate and malicious misrepresentation designed to instigate public animosity towards the Government, especially amongst the families of those whose lives were lost in the tragedy.