FORMER TONGAN MINISTER FAKAFANUA APPEARS IN COURT OVER CHARGES OF BRIBERY AND FORGERY

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NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (January 22, 1999 - (PACNEWS/Radio Tonga)---Tonga's Supreme Court has adjourned the case of a former government minister facing charges of bribery and forgery, to give the prosecution time to prepare the case.

Fakafanua, a noble in the Pacific kingdom, was Minister of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources when he resigned last year over the allegations. Later, 21 charges were brought against him, including forgery, fraudulent conversion, and charges of bribery involving the Tonga Development Bank and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The case was considered in the Supreme Court yesterday. It followed a preliminary inquiry in the Magistrates Court between April and September of last year.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Gordon Ward accepted a request by Senior crown counsel, John Couchie, to adjourn the case to give the prosecution time to prepare the indictment.

Couchie said papers from the preliminary inquiry were only made available to both sides last Friday.

Fakafanua earlier was released on bail.

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