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TONGAN NOBLE TU’ILAKEPA CHARGED IN DRUG CASE Four charges of firearms and drug possession

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 9, 2010) – A Tongan noble has been charged with drugs and firearms offences after a series of raids in Tonga and Sydney connected to a plot to smuggle drugs into Australia.

The solicitor general, Aminiasi Kefu, says Noble Tu’ilakepa faces four charges relating to illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and one of possessing an illegal drug.

The Matangi Tonga website reports that the nobleman appeared at a closed session of a magistrates court on thursday.

Mr Kefu says Tu’ilakepa was released on bail until late next month after being ordered to surrender his passport and posting bail of around 1,000 US dollars.

He was arrested last week after a series of joint police raids in Tonga and Australia.

Australian Federal Police said last Friday they’d arrested six men in Sydney over a plot to smuggle almost 700 kilogrammes of cocaine into the country via Tonga.

Tu’ilakepa was one of nine nobles elected to Tonga’s new-look parliament late last month.

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