Prosecutor recommends $10,000 fine for Ha’apai governor who was convicted of unlawful possession of turtle meat

    The crown prosecutor has recommended a fine of TOP$10,000 for Viliami Manuopangai Hingano after he was convicted of unlawful possession of 198kg of turtle meat.

    Ha’apai governor Viliami Manuopangai Hingano

    But the governor’s lawyer has argued a $1,000 fine was appropriate, the Kakalu ‘O Tonga newspaper reports.

    The Supreme Court is expected to sentence Hingano tomorrow Wednesday 19.

    Hingano, 46, was in possession of the turtle meat out of the shell, without it being certified by an authorised officer that it came from a turtle of legal size.

    He pleaded not guilty and elected trial by judge alone.

    Hingano told the court that he had no guilty intent to commit this offence and that he did not know that the law required that there be prior approval to kill a turtle.

    But Judge Niu didn’t buy it.

    Judge Niu said: “Having heard the accused‘s background, he being a director in the Ministry of Public Enterprises, and he had been a member of Parliament representing District 12 of Ha’apai which included Lofanga, and having grown up and living in Ha’apai, I do not believe his evidence that he did not know that an approval was required before a turtle was killed”.

    2 COMMENTS

    1. There is a lot of drug cases to be dealt with, instead of wasting money and time on eating turtles meat. Are you judges going to throw him in jail? You let drugs dealers go free and prosecute eating turtles meat? How much of tax payers money spend on this case. We were born eating turtles and anything else that is good to eat from the sea. I just don’t know what Tonga come to. Ridiculous!!☹☹☹☹

      • What are you saying ? That they should not look at misdemeanour cases because of the short comings with drug laws ? Umm i think not ! Let the trial run. We grew up eating turtles from the sea. But there is a legislation of endangered inhabitants. If we cant practice prosecuting people breaking the law then why do we even have them . And what you say abouy drugs i totally agree with you but breaking the law does not matter big or small . They should all be dealt with. Let people learn from this

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