TONGA JUDICIARY REFUTES GOVERNMENT-BACKED NEWSPAPER

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, May 27) - Tonga’s Ministry of
Justice has rejected claims by a local newspaper that Chief Justice Gordon Ward
has been illegally paid hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars over the past five
years.

The Tonga Star, which has close links to members of the Royal
Family, is campaigning for the Chief Justice to repay the money and stand aside.

It says he has been paid up to seven times more than the
contracted amount as detailed on the Civil Service List.

Chief Justice Ward is English, and the Justice Ministry says the
wages of expatriate judges have always been paid at levels similar to what they
would command in their home countries.

The Secretary of Justice Semi Tekiteki says there is nothing
untoward in Chief Justice Ward’s salary.

"Judge Ward signed a contract with the government of Tonga,
which is known as the Agreement of Service, ...In that agreement his salary was
stated and that is the salary that he is now receiving.

Tekiteki says the Ministry is very unhappy with the actions of
the Tonga Star and intends making a more formal response to its claims later
this week.

May 28, 2003

Radio New Zealand International: http://www.rnzi.com/ 

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