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NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 11) – Shoreline Power whistleblower, Piveni Piukala, pleaded not guilty to two criminal charges under Tonga's Computer Crimes Act at the Nuku'alofa Supreme Court, this morning, July 11.

The former Manager of the Computer Division of Shoreline Power, Piveni has been charged with unlawfully accessing a protected computer, and the destroying of the computer data of Shoreline Power.

[PIR Editor's note: Since 1998, the Shoreline Group Ltd has operated the power utility in the Kingdom of Tonga as a monopoly. Shoreline, a Tonga-based conglomerate that controls power, telephone and oil interests in the kingdom along with aviation and other companies, is headed by Crown Prince Tupouto’a.]

Piveni revealed in a series of interviews with the Kele’a newspaper in March 2005 the high salaries of Shoreline executives, and some internal problems of the company, in which Tonga's Crown Prince has ownership.

After making his allegations against Shoreline, Piveni moved to Fiji in March, but on his return to Tonga in June 2005 he was arrested by the Tonga Police but was released on bail on June 29.

Piveni first appeared in the Nuku’alofa Supreme court on April 6 of this year after his case was submitted directly from the Nuku’alofa Magistrate's Court earlier in February.

Chief Justice Robin Webster who was presiding over the arraignment this morning adjourned the case to July 18 for a direction hearing to be held in chambers, to set a date for the actual trial to begin.

Piveni was represented by local counsel William Clive Edwards and the Crown counsel was ‘Aminiasi Kefu.

July 12, 2006

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