The trial of a man convicted of possession of illegal drug and bribery has heard that exhibits in the case had been lost.
Nausaimone Kitekei’aho, 52, of Popua had been convicted of possession of illicit drugs contrary to section 4 (a) (b ) (ii) of the Illicit Drugs Control Act 2003.
He was also convicted for bribery of a member of the Tongan police contrary to section 165(1) of the Tongan Police Act 2010.
As Kaniva News reported, Police Sergeant Sāteki Tu’utafaiva and other Police officers were executing a search warrant in Popua on 24 November 2014.
They seized an amount of cannabis “about half an onion sack” and took photographs of it. They were then taken and stored at the Police station as exhibits.
But the court was told the material had been lost during the refurbishment of the Police station when exhibits were removed to the Longolongo Police station.
Kitekei’aho’s lawyer argued that although the evidence indicated that photographs had been taken of the cannabis and the cannabis had been seized and weighed, neither photographs nor drugs had been produced in evidence.
However Justice Charles Cato said he was “satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the· Crown has proven the essential elements of the offending involving the accused being in possession of cannabis, the weight of which in the indictment I accept was 3,800 grams or 134 ounces, which is a large amount of cannabis in Tonga.”
Mr. Cato said he was also satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt that the material was taken into custody weighed and sampled and identified by expert evidence as cannabis or marijuana, an illicit drug.
“I am satisfied that at all material times beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had custody and control of the drug, that is possession of it, and that he identified it as cannabis”, Mr Cato said.
The court was told that during the search Kitekei’aho had asked Sergeant Tu’utafaiva if they could have a moment to talk.
He offered Tuʻutafaiva $2000.00 and asked him not to search the house.
“Tu’utafaiva asked the accused what he meant and he said the thing is in the room”.
Tu’utafaiva told the court that a door to the room was open and there was a black plastic bag under the bed.
“The accused told Tu’utafaiva that there was marijuana under the bed”.
Tu’utafaiva declined the offer and told Kitekei’aho that “he would be charged with possession of illicit drugs”.
Kitekeiʻaho denied he attempted to bribe Tuʻutafaiva saying he admitted it when he was interviewed to satisfy his mother because she was sick but Mr Cato did not buy it.
“Accordingly, I convict the accused on one count of possession of illicit drugs contrary to section 4 (a) (b ) (ii) of the Illicit Drugs Control Act 2003, and the second, bribery of a member of the Tongan police contrary to section 165(1) of the Tongan Police Act 2010”, Mr Cato said.