LEGAL WRANGLING HEATS UP IN TONGA ROYAL

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DISPUTE
Ongoing court battle over Auckland mansion

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Feb. 15, 2011) – In Tonga, three plaintiffs from two political parties have filed a proceeding, with the Supreme Court in Nuku'alofa last week, asking the Court to make a declaration on the attempted sale of the property, 'Atalanga, in Auckland, New Zealand by His Majesty King George Tupou V.

The three plaintiffs are the president of the Paati Langafonua Tu'uloa (PLT), 'Ofa Fakalata, and a party member, Sulunga Lavaka. The third plaintiff is the president of the Paati Temokalati 'Otumotu Anga'ofa (PTOA), 'Akilisi Pohiva.

Sione Fonua, a founder of PLT and the lawyer who drafted the proceedings, stated that the case is based on whether the sale is in direct contravention of the constitution of Tonga.

"The Plaintiffs are asking the Court to make a declaration on the matter. Another legal basis for the legal challenge is the Law of Trusts, which may require the Registered Proprietor to account for the proceeds of sale," he said.

A Mr. Taufa has also lodged a caveat against the title to 'Atalanga to prevent it from being sold.

A barrister Paddy Finnigan and Joel Fotu are the lawyers acting on the matter in Auckland.

[PIR editor’s note: The 1.6 hectare property estimated to have a ratable value of $8 million dollars was purchased in 1952 to house scholarship students and host various royal occasions as well as house members of the royal family. The argument is based on whether the rightful owner of the property is the king or the government and the people of Tonga.]

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