Attorney General confirms police investigating perjury claim in Lavulavu fraud trial

    Kuo fakamahino 'e he 'Ateni Seniale' ki he ongoongo 'a e Kaniva' kuo fakapapau'i 'e he kau polisi ha toko taha ngalingali na'a' ne fakamo'oni loi lolotonga e hopo 'a e ongo Lavulavu. 'Oku te'eki kakato 'a e fakatotolo 'oku fai' pea 'oku te'eki puke 'a e toko taha ko 'eni'. Ko e hia foki ia 'i Tonga ke fakamo'oni loi ha taha 'i he fakamaau'anga'.

    Attorney General Linda Simiki Folaumoetu’i has confirmed that one witness has been identified for potentially committing perjury during the Lavulavu trial.

    She said she could not release any details because police were still investigating and charges had not been laid.

    Police from the Serious Crimes Unit, which led the investigation against the Lavulavus,  were present in Court throughout the trial.

    “No doubt they would have been alerted to the fact that a witness may have potentially committed perjury during the course of giving evidence or even from the judgment,” the Attorney General told Kaniva News.

    She said her office would work with the police if charges were going to be laid.

    If there was a suggestion that a witness in a criminal case had deliberately given false evidence under oath, the matter would be referred to Police to collect the relevant evidence, such as the official transcript of the trial.

    “We cannot use a specific judgment and the views and findings of a judge in relation to the credibility of a witness to conclude that a witnesses has committed perjury,” the attorney General said.

    “Evidence must be independently obtained by Police so that there is evidence to prove a charge of perjury.”

    The guilty verdict

    The Supreme Court has found Cabinet Minister and MP Akosita Lavulavu and her ousted husband former Cabinet Minister and MP Etuate Lavulavu  guilty of defrauding $558,00 of the government school grant scheme.

    ‘Etuate, 62, and Akosita, 36, were charged with knowingly dealing with forged documents and obtaining credit by false pretenses, after irregularities in an audit of the ‘Unuaki ‘o Tonga Royal Institute in 2016.  Akosita was the director of the school while ‘Etuate was the president.

    They have been released on bail ahead of their sentencing on July 2.

    What were the reactions against the PM?

    The Prime Minister’s repeated refusal to penalise Akosita has sparked a huge uproar with many calling on him to resign.

    In Parliament last week the noble MPs led by Lord Tu’iha’angana along with Opposition Party took side with the public and told the prime minister he had to do something against Akosita.

    There were calls for him to use his common sense and stand her down to maintain the government’s reputation and the king’s dignity.

    Tu’i’onetoa has been slammed for using the Holy Bible and Clause 23 of the Constitution to defend his decision to keep Akosita in office while at the same time the constitution clause 51 has given him a prerogative power to force her to resign.

    The Prime Minister is now facing another backlash over revelations about her pay. Critics have lashed out, saying that he has repeatedly changed his justification for taking no action against her.

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