TONGA APPOINTS MAGISTRATE TO EASE BACKLOG

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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Maganti Tonga, July 26) - Masao Paasi has been appointed as a Relieving Police Magistrate for Tonga.

A lawyer and the former Vava'u People's Representative to the Tongan parliament, Paasi was the second police magistrate to be appointed this year. Earlier this year, Vaha'i Fefeka Foliaki was appointed as a Police Magistrate.

Paasi was appointed on July 19.

The Secretary for Justice, Simi Tekiteki said that the Ministry had been advertising for two police magistrates, "to help shorten our list of cases awaiting to be tried in the police magistrates courts."

However, Simi said that Masao was appointed as a Relieving Magistrate, meaning that once the backlog of magistrate cases is cleared he will cease to become a police magistrate.

Simi said that five magistrates are posted in Nuku'alofa to serve Tongatapu and the nearby island of 'Eua. "There is one magistrate in Pangai, Lifuka who serves the Ha'apai group, and Vava'u is supposed to have two magistrates, but at the moment they have only one." The Vava'u magistrate also serves the two northern islands of Niuafo'ou and Niuatoputapu, visiting the isolated islands three times a year.

Simi said that his ministry wanted to enhance the administration of justice in the country, and a new Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court, Judge McElrea would arrive from New Zealand on 29 July, and the new Chief Justice Robert Webster would arrive on 10 August.

When Chief Justice Robert Webster arrives, Tonga will have three Supreme Court judges for the first time.

Simi said that Judge McElrea's service in Tonga is funded by the New Zealand government and at the end of his three-months contract he will be replaced by another New Zealand judge to serve another three-months term. These two New Zealand Supreme Court Judges are coming in to ease off the backlog of Supreme Court cases.

July 27, 2004

Matangi Tonga: www.matangitonga.to/nav.html

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