15 May 2012

Defamation charge against Tonga MP dropped

3:03 pm on 15 May 2012

A defamation suit against the Tongan pro-democracy leader, Akilisi Pohiva, has been dropped.

The action centres on an article allegedly by Mr Pohiva, which reported that the deputy prime minister, Samiu Vaipulu, and the former works minister, Lord Nuku, took part of a 46 million US dollar loan meant for road maintenance.

Radio Tonga reports judge, Paula Tatafu, decided to drop the charges saying that Mr Pohiva did not write the article.

However, the publisher of the Kele'a Newspaper, Laucala Tapueluelu and the editor of the newspaper, Mateni Tapueluelu, are still being sued.

The Deputy Prime Minister Samiu Vaipulu denies the allegation.

Called as a witness at Fasi Magistrates Court, Mr Vaipulu said the article caused frustration, anger and upset.

The lawyer for the two accused, Siosifa Tu'utafaiva, says their defence is based on fair comment and qualified privilege.