Accused street protestors await judgement

Im pretty sure that NZ & OZ have sent prosecutors over for these "trials" as well

18 Apr 2007, 19:15

Nuku'alofa, Tonga:

THE trial of three street protesters, 'Akilisi Pohiva, Tu'i Uata and Semisi Sika, ended at the Fasi-moe-afi Police Magistrate's Court yesterday.

At the end of two-days of hearing, Police Magistrate Samiu Palu announced that he would deliver his decision on Monday, May 7.

The three accused have been charged with offences relating to a protest march on June 1, 2006.

'Akilisi Pohiva, the Tongatapu no. 1 People's Representative to the Tongan Parliament is charged with four counts of abetting to obstruct police lawful duties.

Tu'i Uata, (the son of the Ha'apai no. 1 People's Representative) is charged with three counts of disobeying police orders, obstruction of police from carrying out his lawful duties, and abetting to disobey.

Semisi Sika a businessman is charged with one count of abetting to disobey.

The three men have all pleaded not guilty to the eight charges on February 9.

The hearing, which had been adjourned several times since the defendants' first appearance in court on January 26, finally started on April 16.

Pohiva represented himself but the legal counsel for Uata and Sika was Clive Edwards

Canberra rapped for diplomatic stance

By Mark Forbes
Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Nukualofa, Tonga
December 18, 2003

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has been attacked for refusing to meet Tonga's most popular politician and leader of its democratic movement while paying court to a king who is censoring free speech and refusing to hand over power.

Australia was being hypocritical by demanding good governance in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, while refusing to intervene on behalf of democracy in Tonga, according to democracy leaders.

Opposition Leader Akilisi Pohiva commands 70 per cent popular support and would be prime minister in a conventional democracy.

In Tonga, King Taufa'aha Tupou IV appoints 21 of the nation's 30 MPs. Last election, seven of the nine popularly elected seats were won by the democracy movement.

Mr Pohiva said Mr Downer was arrogant in refusing requests to meet popularly elected MPs during a two-day visit to Tonga.

"Failing to meet the people's representatives, that's ridiculous, a sign of arrogance on behalf of your Foreign Minister," Mr Pohiva said.

Mr Downer did not understand the popular pressure for democracy in Tonga, he said

Mr Downer said he did not have time to meet everybody, and as a representative of an executive government it was appropriate he met Tongan Government representatives. Several backbench MPs accompanying him had met the opposition MPs, he said.

Tonga needed to evolve at its own pace, Mr Downer said. "A whole lot of lectures from me are not going to contribute to a positive outcome. We don't want to contribute in an aggressive way to internal debates here."

Controversial constitutional changes introduced this month give the Government power to ban critical media outlets.

The changes are aimed at the Times of Tonga and have been condemned by organisations, including Amnesty International.

Another opposition MP, Fred Sevele, attacked Australia.

We don't want to contribute in an aggressive way to internal debates here.

"You guys have been saying this to PNG, you got involved in the Solomon Islands, your PM has been tough on good governance. There are no boundaries on abolishing human rights.

"People of Tonga have the right to elect their government, these are basic human rights.

"I find it difficult to match with the statements Mr Howard has made in the last 12 months and your stand on PNG and the Solomon Islands," Dr Sevele said. The people's representatives yesterday gave a letter to Mr Downer's staff urging Australia to pressure Tonga to institute political reforms immediately.

The letter, signed by a member of the royal family, Prince Tu'ipelehake, said that the Government was disregarding the will of the people, transparency, accountability and good governance.

Australian encouragement could persuade Tonga to introduce real democracy, which was being demanded by the people, the letter said.

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