A former Tongatapu Police officer was found guilty and convicted after being charged for demanding cash from a female accused in exchange for assisting her to avoid going to court.
Pita Vakalahi was charged with one count of demanding a bribe on 27 October 2019 at the Nuku’alofa Central Police Station while working as a member of Tonga Police
Vakalahi demanded $640 from Sinai Lelea who was also known by the name Sinai Lefai Mafile’o, 23, as an inducement not to charge her with traffic offences.
Justice Laki Niu said Mafile’o’s evidence was corroborated by the Tonga Communications Corporation records and by answers given by the accused himself in his evidence.
“I am therefore satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the accused did demand from Sinai $640 as an inducement to refrain from charging her with traffic offences”, Justice Niu said before convicting Vakalahi on Monday.
The court was told that on the night of 26 October 2019, Mafile’o had a vehicle accident and hit the fence of the Teacher Training School.
She was arrested and kept in Police custody until the next morning when the accused brought her into the Traffic Office and questioned her.
Mafile’o asked the accused if she would go to Court in which he agreed.
Vakalahi then told Mafile’o that there was a way for her to avoid going to Court.
In court, Mafile’o said “the accused told her that his help for her not to go to Court was for her to pay him $540 for her offence of drunk driving and $100 for driving without a licence”.
After consulting with a person by the name Heilala Pamata, Mafile’o decided not to pay Vakalahi the sum of $400 she initially agreed to pay. And she did not pay any money at all, the court was told.
Mafile’o had never been charged with any offence in respect of her driving accident.