Tonga’s deputy prime minister Sione Vuna Fā’otusia has been acquitted of charges of wrongful interference with the course of justice and using threatening language to police officers in a dispute over a stolen cow.
The Minister successfully argued there was no case for him to answer, local media have reported.
Crown prosecutors have appealed the magistrate’s acquittal decision.
Fā’otusia, the MP for Tongatapu 7 was charged after an incident that occurred on 12 January 2019.
The court was told a police officer stole a cow from Fua’amotu and sold it to a butchery in Ha’ateiho.
The owner of the cow complaint to police and an investigation was under way.
Police investigators together with the owner of the cow finally found the cow at a tax allotment belonged to the owner of the butchery. When told by police they have to take the cow with them the butcher refused and said he wanted his money back from the police officer.
The police investigators anyway removed the cow and returned it to the owner. The butcher, a Tongatapu 7 constituent, then complained to the Minister.
The Minister is then alleged to have called the police investigators and used threatening language, including swearing at them for taking the cow.
It is understood the police officer who sold the stolen cow has been suspended from his duty.
He was charged with theft and accepting money as an inducement to refrain from doing his duty as a police officer.