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Jurors discussed case outside jury room

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, April 16, 2009) - Chief Justice Honorable Anthony Ford dismissed the seven jurors who were presiding over the trial of four accused charged with serious multiple offences during the 16/11 riot and ordered a retrial to start tomorrow, April 17, at the Nuku΄alofa Supreme Court.

The Chief Justice Hon Anthony Ford ordered the retrial, after confirming on Tuesday, April 14 that three of the seven jurors discussed details of the case with one of the four accused during the court’s break.

Jurors are strictly prohibited from talking about case details with anyone except amongst themselves.

In confronting the three jurors in court it was confirmed they were informed by the accused about legal submissions made in court in their absence.

Therefore the Chief Justice discharged all of them thus ordered a retrial with new jurors to be elected.

The four accused standing trial are ΄Etuate Uata, ΄Asiata Masima, ΄Onitulei Manu and Kata Leleifua who are charged with 14 offences of riotous assembly, the damage and destruction of various buildings and housebreaking.

The trial began on Thursday, April 2 was on its seventh day of trial on Tuesday, April 14 when the incident took place and resulting in the jurors’ dismissal.

The Crown Prosecutor was Acting Solicitor General ΄Aminiasi Kefu with counsel Sifa Tu΄utafaiva representing the four accused.

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