TONGAN OFFICIAL FACES DEFAMATION SUIT OVER RIOT

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (NiuFM, Mar 14) - The advisor to the Prime Minister of Tonga is today remaining tight lipped over news he's being sued by pro-democracy leaders for defamation.

Lopeti Senituli, the press secretary and personal advisor to Prime Minister Fred Sevele, is being sued by three people for saying they were responsible for last year's riots.

Senituli detailed in a report that he believed the riot was actually a coup and that the movement had intended to harm the Prime Minister and his Cabinet in the process.

Today, he told Pacific Radio News he couldn't discuss the civil action being taken against him saying Tonga's judicial system allows people to seek redress if they so desire.

Lawyer and People's Representative Member of Parliament Clive Edwards is one of those seeking damages.

He told Pacific RadioNews his claim was for $500,000 and that two others were seeking $300,000 each in a separate suit.

Edwards says Senituli has defamed him with his claim that he incited people two days before the day of the riot, as well as on the day itself.

Edwards has been charged with sedition for comments he's alleged to have made two days before the actual riot where it's being claimed he urged discontented locals to act on their anger.

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