Editor and publisher of Keleʻa Newspaper fined for contempt of court

    The Editor of Keleʻa Newspaper ‘Ofa Vatikani has been fined TP$1,250.00 and Publisher Lautala Pōhiva Tapueluelu TP$750.00  for breaching contempt of court laws with their coverage of the magistrate court ruling against the  Chinese nationals Meilin Liu and Fe Kaifeng Tian.

    Lord Chief Justice Owen Paulsen  ordered the duo to pay their fines within 2 months or face one month imprisonment.

    Tonga’s Acting  Attorney General, ʻĀminiasi Kefu launched the contempt action against the newspaper’s authorities in June, after they published a story headlined – “Fehuʻia pe ‘oku totonu nai ke fōtunga pehe ni tuʻutuʻuni hopo” (“Questionable whether a court order should look like this”), which was published in the Ko e Kele’a newspaper of Monday 2 March 2015, Volume 31, Number 9.

    In his ruling Justice Paulsen said it was clear the readers would “understand” from the last paragraph of the article that the release of Liu and Tian was made by Magistrate Mafi because he had received “communications from high authorities” at the Ministry of Justice. .

    “That would have the effect, in my view, to lead members of the community to conclude that Magistrate Mafi was influenced to discharge the defendants, that he is not impartial and that the Magistrate Court is not an independent institution, but one that is subject to influence from people in high authority”,  a statement from the AG Office  said.

    Justice Paulsen also advised that “anyone is free to criticise the decisions of the Court or the conduct of any Judge, even if the criticism is outspoken, mistaken or wrongheaded, provided that it is not likely to undermine the public confidence in the administration of justice”.

    Mr Vatikani and Mrs Pohiva were remorseful, and as an expression of their regret, they have agreed to publish their apologies on Kele’a acknowledging their article was in breach of contempt of court laws and reflecting the fact that it should never have been made.

    The defendants were ordered to pay the court costs and were also given 42 days from 15 July 2015 to file any appeal against their conviction.

    Dr Harrison QC SC represented Mr Vatikani and Mrs Pohiva, and the Acting Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions for the Crown Law.

    1 COMMENT

    1. Kuo tauteaʻi ʻe he fakamaau lahí ke moʻua e ʻĒtita ʻo e Nusipepa Keleʻá ʻOfa Vatikani paʻanga ʻe $1, 250 mo e Faipulusí Lautala Pōhiva Tapueluelu paʻanga ʻe $750 ki hono maumauʻi e lao anga taʻe fakaʻapaʻapa ki he fakamaauʻangá ʻi heʻenau ongoongo ko ia ne tuku ange kau ki ha tuʻutuʻuni fakafakamaauʻanga polisi ki he ongo fakaʻiloa Siaina ko Meilin Liu mo Fe Kaifeng Tian.

      Ne tuʻutuʻuni ʻa Fakamaau Lahi Owen Paulsen ki he ʻĒtita ʻo e Pepá ʻOfa Vatikani ke ne totongi hono moʻuá ʻi loto ʻi he māhina ʻe ua ka ʻikai ʻe taki ngāue pōpula māhina ʻe taha pea pehē pe foki kia Lautala.

      Ne fakaʻilo hia ki he taʻe fakaʻapaʻapa ki he fakamaauʻangá ʻa e toko ua ko ʻení ʻe he ʻĀteni Seniale Leʻoleʻó ʻĀminiasi Kefu hili ia hono pulusi ʻe he Keleʻá ʻa e fakamatala ne ʻuluʻi ongoongo ʻo pehē – “Fehuʻia pe ‘oku totonu nai ke fōtunga pehe ni tuʻutuʻuni hopo” ʻi he Kele’a Mōnite ʻaho 2 Māʻasi 2015, Volume 31, Number 9.

      ʻI heʻene tuʻutuʻuni ʻi he ʻaho 15 ʻo Siulaí naʻe pehē ʻe Paulsen naʻe mahino ʻe fakaʻuhingaʻi ʻe he kau lau ʻo e ongoongo ko ʻení e palakalafi fakamuimuí ʻi he Keleʻá ko e tautea ne fai kia Liu mo Tian ʻo kau ai hona tuku ange kinauá naʻe fai ia ʻe Fakamaau Polisi Sālesi Mafi koeʻuhī naʻe ʻi ai ha fetuʻutaki hake ki ai ʻa ha kau maʻumafai māʻolunga mei he Potungāue Laó.

      Ne pehē ʻe Paulsen ʻe hanga ʻe he foʻi fakamatala ko iá ʻi he anga ʻene vakaí ʻo taki e kakai he komiunitií ke nau aofangatuku naʻe fakakounaʻi ʻa Fakamaau Mafi pea ʻikai tauʻatāina ʻo ne tuʻutuʻuni ke tuku ange ʻa e ongo fakaʻiloá pea ko e fakamaauʻangá ʻi he tuʻunga ko iá ʻoku ʻikai ko ha feituʻu ʻoku tauʻatāina mei he kau maʻu mafai māʻolungá.

      Ne enginaki foki ʻa Paulsen ʻo pehē ʻoku tauʻatāina ʻa e taha kotoa ke ne fakaangaʻi ha tuʻutuʻuni ʻa e fakamaauʻangá , ʻulungāanga ʻo ha fakamaau, ʻo tatau pe ka ko ha fakaanga ʻoku kakaha, fehalaaki pe fakavalevale, koloa pe ke ʻoua naʻa hangē ʻokú ne toʻo e falala ʻa e kakaí ki he faʻunga ʻoku kumia ai e fakamaau totonú.

      Ne pehē foki ʻe ha siteitimeni mei he ʻŌfisi ʻo e ʻĀteni Seniale Leʻoleʻó ne hā mei he ongo fakaʻiloá ʻa e loto fakatomala peá ne tuʻo ua foki haʻana pulusi he Keleʻá ha kole fakamolemole ki he fakamaauʻangá.

      Naʻe toe tuʻutuʻuni foki ke na totongi ʻa e fakamole ki he fakamaauʻangá.

      ʻOku ʻoange ʻa e ʻaho ʻe 42 kia Vatikani mo Tapueluelu ʻo kamata lau mei he ʻaho 15 ʻo Siulai ní ke na tangi ai ʻi hona tauteá ʻo ka ʻokú na fie fai pehē.

      Ne fakafofongaʻi ʻe Dr Harrison QC SC ʻa Mr Vatikani mo Mrs Pōhiva, pea ko Kefu maʻa e talatalaakí.

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