ARREST WARRANT ISSUED FOR TONGA’S SPEAKER

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Lord Lasike breaches bail conditions

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Dec. 23, 2011) - Tonga's Chief Justice Hon Michael Dishington Scott has ordered a warrant of arrest for Lord Lasike the Speaker of Parliament, after he defied the conditions of a court order and breached his bail when he travelled to the USA in November and has not returned to Tonga.

Chief Justice Scott held a hearing in his chamber at 9:00am today, December 23 at the Supreme Court in Nuku'alofa with Lord Lasike's counsel William Edwards and the Solicitor General 'Aminiasi Kefu.

Matangi Tonga understands from the Supreme Court, that after hearing submissions from counsel, the Chief Justice ordered a warrant of arrest for the Speaker upon his return to Tonga, and that the order for the warrant was also released to the Tonga Police.

The Crown Law sought the order for the Speaker's breach of bail with the Supreme Court on December 22, which resulted in the special hearing this morning, after Government offices closed yesterday.

Ammunition charge

On November 10, Lasike filed an application Notice for Variation of Bail and for permission to travel overseas on a parliamentary trip to Israel from November 14 to December 17, 2011. The application was granted by Justice Robert Shuster with the consent of the Crown Law. His passport was released to him, to be returned to the court upon his return to Tonga.

Under the order, his local bail was also extended to January 20, 2012, when he was to appear at the Supreme Court in Nuku'alofa, for arraignment before Justice Shuster.

However, the Speaker has not returned to Tonga.

It is understood that he did not go to Israel with the parliamentary delegation and instead went to the United States.

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