Lord Tu'ivakanō

Former Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges in the Supreme Court.

The Noble, who is also Tonga’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs, was first charged in March 2018.

The charges stem from the Chinese passport scandal.

As Kaniva news reported last year, the court case has been postponed repeatedly since the noble’s first appearance in court.

Five of the charges he denied in court this week involved the acceptance of a bribe  by a government servant.

He also pleaded not guilty to making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining a passport and perjury.

The other two charges he denied were for possession of a firearm – a .22 rifle – without a license and possession of 212 pieces of ammunition without a license.

It is alleged that between 2013-2014, while serving as Minister for Foreign Affairs, the king’s noble accepted money to issue Tongan passports to various Chinese nationals.

The amount involved ranged from  TP$3000 to TP$199,408.94.

He was accused of making a false statement on the grounds that on July 17, 2015 he wrote a letter to the Immigration Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stating that Hua Guo and Ms Xing Lui were naturalised as Tongans on October 29, 2014.

On the charge of perjury, it was alleged that on December 21, 2015, he made an oath in an affidavit, stating that these two were naturalised during his tenure as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Ministry and that naturalisation Tongan passports were then issued to them, knowing this statement was false.

The firearm and ammunition charges stemmed from a police search of his home 2018 in Nuku’alofa on March 1.

The trial is expected to run for four-weeks.

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