12 Feb 2020

Former Tongan PM pleads not guilty to 10 charges

11:16 am on 12 February 2020

A former prime minister of Tonga and Noble MP has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges, half of which are for the acceptance of a bribe.

Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept, court

Photo: ikiryo/123RF

Lord Tu'ivakano's jury trial started on Tuesday in the Supreme Court.

The trial comes nearly two-years after Tu'ivakano was first charged.

He faces five counts of accepting a bribe as a government servant and one each for money laundering, making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining a passport and perjury.

The other two charges for possession of a gun and over 200 pieces of ammunition without a license.

The bribery charges allege that between 2013-2014, while Foreign Affairs Minister, Tu'ivakano accepted money for the issuance of Tongan passports to various Chinese nationals.

The firearm and ammunition charges were due to a search warrant executed by police at his home in March 2018.

Matangi Tonga reports the Crown intends to call 17 witnesses to give evidence.

The trial is expected to run for four weeks.