Tongan Speaker Lord Lasike Convicted For Ammunition Possession

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Chief justice rejects defense, Lord Lasike plans appeal action

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 9, 2012) – Lord Lasike (55), the Speaker of the Tonga Legislative Assembly, was convicted of an indictable offence by Chief Justice Michael Dishington Scott in the Supreme Court, Nuku'alofa, this morning, June 9.

The Chief Justice rejected the testimony of the accused and imposed a fine of TOP$500 [US$283] pa'anga, which must be paid within 14 days.

The case against Lasike related to two .22 rifle bullets found by police on June 28, 2010, during a search warrant conducted at the Sandy Boyz Motel, which he owns.

At the end of a two and half days hearing today, the Chief Justice found Lasike guilty of illegal possession of the two .22 bullets.

The judge found it unrealistic that the accused and Sandra (now his wife) were living in separate rooms, while they were in an intimate relationship, and enjoyed which ever room they used when the crime was committed.

With regards to the box where the two bullets were found, the Chief Justice said that it was in plain sight, as it was on a drawer beside the bed.

"The accused and Sandra both said it was her box. Sandra gave a detailed account of what was inside the box which included files, bags, USB wires; so she must have gone through the box and the picture shown in court of how the two bullets were found in it, and were in full view.

"To say that Sandra did not know of the bullets' existence is inconsistent with what the accused said," he said.

"I found the police officers evidence to be truthful. I reject the testimony of the accused," said Chief Justice Scott. He concluded that Sandra was not a truthful witness.

He ruled that he was satisfied that the Crown had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was indeed in possession of the two bullets.

Appeal

Lasike said he would appeal his conviction. He was represented by defense counsel William Edwards.

The Crown Prosecutor was Sione Sisifa, assisted by Leotrina Macomber.

Lasike's estates are Lakepa in 'Ahau, Lakepa in Neiafu, Lakepa in Ha'atau, Lakepa in Kala'au, Lakepa in 'Eua, Lakepa in Navutoka, Fonongahina and Tafafangafanga in Hahake. He also holds the title Tu'uhetoka, the estate holder of the island of Ha'afeva in Ha'apai.

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