The Supreme Court has turned down a request from the public prosecutor to hear charges against Lord Tu’ivakano and two other accused together.
Lord Tu’ivakano, ‘Ileana Taulua and Isapela Tu’akoi are subject to separate indictments.
Tu’ivakano is charged with two counts of money laundering, two counts of perjury, one count of making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining a passport, six counts of accepting a bribe as a government servant, two counts of possession of a firearm without a licence and one count of possessing ammunition without a licence.
Taulua is charged with five counts of making a false declaration and one count of possession of an unlawfully issued passport.
Tu’akoi is charged with four counts of making a false declaration and four counts of forgery.
Each of the accused has pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution argued that the case against Tu’ivakano was founded on the same facts as the cases against the other two.
The offences alleged against Tu’ivakano formed or were part of a series of offences of a similar character to the offences alleged against the other accused.
The prosecution argued that If the cases were not held jointly, the same witnesses would have to be called to give the same evidence in different hearings . It said this would be unnecessary and a waste of court resources.
The prosecution’s application was opposed by Lord Tu’ivakano. Taulua and Tu’akoi were content to have their cases heard together.
Lord Tu’ivakano’s legal representative argued that a joint trial would be a breach of Clauses 10-14 of the Constitution. He also argued that Tu’ivakano would face other witnesses and charges not in his indictment.
However, having considered a range of legal precedents, Lord Chief Justice Whitten cited legal precedent that more than one indictment could not be heard before a single jury.
He therefore ruled a joint trial would not be possible unless the Tongan Criminal Offences Act was changed or new criminal procedure rules introduced.
The prosecution’s application for a joint trial was therefore refused.
The main points
- The Supreme Court has turned down a request from the public prosecutor to hear charges against Lord Tu’ivakano and two other accused together.
- Lord Tu’ivakano, ‘Ileana Taula and Isapela Tu’akoi are subject to separate indictments.
For more information
One bribery charge dropped, but Lord Tu’ivakano must face trial on all other counts