22 Jul 2019

Tongan court to consider joint trial for noble MP

3:10 pm on 22 July 2019

A Tongan court is expected to hear arguments on 6 September on whether a noble MP should be tried alongside two others also accused of passport offences.

Siale ʻAtaongo Kaho, Lord Tuʻivakanō

Lord Tuʻivakanō Photo: RNZ/Daniela Maoate-Cox

Matangi Tonga reported the hearing will consider a Crown proposal to have a joint trial of former Prime Minister Lord Tuʻivakanō and the two others.

Last week, the case was adjourned to be mentioned in September before a new Chief Justice.

Tuʻivakanō previously appeared before Lord Chief Justice Paulsen and pleaded not guilty to a total of 15 charges.

Twelve charges related to the issuance of Tongan passports include perjury and accepting bribes, while three are for possession of firearms and ammunition without a license.

The Crown wants to hold Tuʻivakanō's trial together with that of Isabella Satua Tu'akoi and 'Ileana Suliana Taulua because it says the facts relating to all three defendants are the same.

Tu'ivakano's lawyer strongly opposes the Crown's submission.