10 Jul 2021

Tonga's Lavulavus fail in bail bid

6:28 am on 10 July 2021

Jailed Tongan cabinet minister, 'Akosita Lavulavu, and her husband. 'Etuate, a former cabinet minister, have lost their bid for bail.

Tongan MP 'Akosita Lavulavu.

Tongan MP 'Akosita Lavulavu. Photo: RNZI/Koroi Hawkins

The Lord Chief Justice Michael Whitten handed down an 18 page ruling this week, saying he was not satisfied with their prospects for success on appeal.

The Lavulavus had run the 'Unuaki 'o Tonga Royal Institute, but falsified the numbers enrolled when applying for vocational education training grants, instead pocketing hundreds of thousands of pa'anga intended for the tertiary education of young people.

An election petition filed against Tonga's Minister of Infrastructure, 'Etuate Lavulavu, for alleged illegal practices will be heard by a Supreme Court judge in July.

Etuate Lavulavu Photo: Facebook

The Chief Justice said their offences were of a very serious nature, involving some of the largest monetary amounts for offences of this kind in Tonga.

The couple sought to have their convictions set aside and that they be acquitted.

But the Chief Justice said the Lavulavus failed to show there were successful grounds that might warrant the convictions being quashed.