NEW DRUG CHARGES AGAINST TONGA LAWMAKER

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Former Speaker Tu’ilakepa is a Noble

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, May 31, 2011) – Another drug charge has been filed against Lord Tu'ilakepa a former Speaker of the Tonga Legislative Assembly and a current Vava'u Nobles Representative.

The noble is charged with one new count of conspiracy to the importation of an illicit drug into Tonga in addition to five illicit drugs and illegal firearms charges he was initially charged with last year.

At the same another noble, the current Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Lord Lasike will also face trial at the Supreme Court in Nuku'alofa for one count of unlawful possession of ammunition.

Tu'ilakepa was set to appear at the Magistrate Court on May 30 on his new charge, but all cases were adjourned to next week.

He has been charged two counts for possession of illegal firearms, two counts for possession of illegal ammunition and one count for possession of an illicit drug, along with the sixth charge of conspiracy to the importation of an illicit drug.

Police Prosecutor Mema Latu, said the new charge relates to the five charges last year, which followed a transnational police investigation into illicit drugs conducted in Tonga and Australia. On December 2, 2010 Tonga Police executed five search warrants at four locations in Tongatapu and one location in Vava'u.

Meanwhile, Lasike, was initially charged with three counts including possession of an unlawful arm without a license, importation of an arm without a license and unlawful possession of ammunition during a Preliminary Inquiry before Magistrate Mafi on April 19.

The Magistrate in his judgment on May 25 dismissed the two counts of possession of an unlawful arm without a license, importation of an arm without a license due to insufficient evidence provided by the Crown.

On the other hand he found there was sufficient evidence for the one count of unlawful possession of ammunition against the Speaker and submitted the case to the Supreme Court for trial.

Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/

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