NOTED TONGA LAWMAKER FINED $196 FOR URGING PROTEST

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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, May 7) – A Tongatapu People's Representative, 'Akilisi Pohiva and a fellow street protestor, Tu'i Uata were today convicted on charges relating to a protest march in Tonga on June 1 last year.

Police Magistrate Samiu Palu announced his decision on the hearing of three street protesters, 'Akilisi Pohiva, Tu'i Uata and Semisi Sika at Fasi Magistrate court today, April 7.

'Akilisi Pohiva, the Tongatapu no. 1 People's Representative to the Tongan Parliament who was charged with, firstly, encouraging and abetting with others to obstruct police lawful duties was found guilty and was ordered to pay 450 pa'anga [US$196] within two months or serve a prison sentence of six months. On a second charge of encouraging others to commit a crime he was convicted and discharged without a fine.

Tu'i Uata, (the son of the Ha'apai no. 1 People's Representative) was found guilty on all three charges of disobeying police orders, obstruction of police from carrying out his lawful duties, and abetting to disobey.

Uata who was firstly found guilty for obstructing police lawful duties was ordered to pay 300 pa'anga [US$147] within two months or serve three months in prison. He was also ordered to pay 350 pa'anga [US$171] to be paid within two months or face imprisonment for four months after being found guilty on second the charge of disobeying police lawful orders. For the charge of abetment with others to obstruct police orders he was convicted and discharged.

Semisi Sika a businessman who was charged with one count of abetting to disobey was found not guilty and discharged.

The hearing, which had been adjourned several times since the defendants' first appearance in court on January 26, finally started on April 16 and ended on April 17, 2006.

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