TONGAN LAWMAKERS ON TRIAL FOR SEDITION

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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, May 30) – The Preliminary Inquiry Hearing of William Clive Edwards, 'Uliti Uata and 'Akilisi Pohiva on a second sedition charge started at the Nuku'alofa Police Magistrate's court yesterday morning, May 29.

The second sedition charge that has been brought against the three PRs [People’s Representatives], related to seditious comments that they supposed to have made at Pangai Si'i on November 14, 2006.

The Preliminary Inquiry hearing on the first sedition charge that were brought against the five PRs, 'Akilisi Pohiva, 'Uliti Uata, Clive Edwards, 'Isileli Pulu and Lepolo Taunisila, relating to what was happening in the Cabinet Room in the afternoon of November 16 was concluded on May 24.

On this second sedition charge the three PRs were alleged to have incited the people who gathered at Pangai Si'i on November 14. Clive told the gathering that, "if there is no ballot or suggestion (by the House over their proposed model of government) then we will stop being peaceful and do something else, and if there is no ballot, then you are free to do as you please".

'Uliti also told the same gathering, "what I am having trouble with is what's next for us if our proposal is not accepted, we will appear on television and tell you later and may be Thursday is our day for all to come to Pangai as Parliament is still insisting on no ballot, and why? so that the matter could be submitted to the committee for Political Reform, but we want Parliament to make a decision and then set up a committee, what they are doing is stalling us but despite this we will not retreat and we will try to remain calm, but when we run out of patience then our problem will become your problem."

'Akilisi in a matter-of-fact speech told the gathering, "we shall take by force our right, and we will take power."

The Crown Prosecutor, Peter Little called his first witness, Police officer Pita Tahitu'a.

Pita told the court that he was present at Pangai Si'i on November 14, 2006 where he heard speeches made by some of the people representatives.

Peter Little asked Pita Tahitu'a if the speeches made by the PRs that day were those he saw on the two DVDs last Friday, Pita replied, yes.

The DVDs were then submitted to be played in court, but Clive Edwards who represented himself objected to the move by the prosecutor. He argued that it was not proper for the witness to testify what he saw on the DVDs the Friday before, to be what happened at Pangai Si'i on November 14. He said that the witness should tell the court what he personally recollected of what was said at Pangai Si'i on that day before the video is played. Clive argued that this kind of manouvering by the prosecutor infringed into the defendants' individual rights.

Peter Little told the court that the DVDs were the best admissible evidence to be shown in court and it was no different from the witness being shown a photograph to confirm what he saw.

Christopher Harder, 'Akilisi's legal counsel queried the move by the Crown Prosecutor. He said that it appeared that the Crown does not know who took the tapes, and if that was the case then the tapes should not be submitted to court. If the prosecutor wanted to present the tapes then he should provide the origin of the tapes, who recorded them, when they were produced and whether they have been edited.

The Police Magistrate then told the court that the prosecutor should provide the details of who produced the video tapes.

Peter Little responded that he could bring to court the people who produced the tapes. He also repeated what he said earlier that the tapes were very good evidences, because the witness has seen the tapes and "he is here to tell that this is what he saw at Pangai Si'i on November 14."

The Police Magistrate, Peau Pifileti told the court that the tapes were good admissible evidence, but the origin of the tape was what the defence queried. He adjourned the hearing to 2pm in the afternoon.

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