Jailer ordered to pay $24,000 over ‘defamatory’ posts targeting Finance Minister

    A correction officer who accused the Minister of Finance of involving in activities which he claimed led to alleged missing of funds from the ‘Eua Shipping Council has been ordered to pay TOP$24,000 in damages.

    Finance Minister Tēvita Lavemaau. Photo/Kalino Lātū

    Viliami Havea, a jailer (“sela”) at ‘Eua prison, had made a series of posts on Facebook group with an account under the name of ‘Ao‘aokimāsisiva accusing Hon Tēvita Lavemaau of attempting to deregister the Council.

    Havea also called on authorities to audit the Council’s $200,000 funding, the lawyer for the Minister, Dr Viliami Uasikē Lātū reported on his Nepituno webpage today.

    Havea also accused the minister of abusing his position as minister by hiring out his tractor to the constituency’s grass-cutting contractor.

    The Minister, who is also the MP for ‘Eua, took legal action, stating that this was untrue and defamatory.

    Dr Lātū said a formal proof hearing was held before Magistrate Loupua Kulī made her decision on September 22.

    The court order came after Tonga’s  Electronic Communication Abuse Offences Act came into force on July 1.

    The law was passed to address the use of any communication platform to  abuse, harass or otherwise harm another.

    It has played an important part in protecting the ordinary citizens and reminding them that social media now are no different from newspapers, magazines or books when it comes to the dangers of defamation.

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