5 Mar 2020

Former Tongan PM pleads guilty to possession of rifle without licence

4:44 pm on 5 March 2020

Former Tongan Prime Minister Lord Tu'ivakano has pleaded guilty to possession of a rifle without a licence and will be sentenced at a later date.

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Matangi Tonga reports that he changed his plea from not guilty when it was revealed during his evidence that at time police executed a search of his home in March, he had no licence for the .22 rifle.

His counsel had intially submitted the accused had a licence to the firearm.

However, the accused explained he had a licence which expired and he had directed his Parliamentary driver, while he was House Speaker, to renew it.

Tu'ivakano then left for New Zealand and returned later with the belief his licence was renewed.

However, Lord Chief Justice Whitten advised this was no defence.

Tu'ivakano's Supreme Court trial continues with the Noble MP still facing charges of accepting bribery and money laundering and perjury charges related to passport sales.