Insurance Company Sued For Damages During Tonga Riots

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Refuses to pay because 2006 violence was allegedly ‘planned’

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Nov. 6, 2012) – Eight plaintiffs of local businesses in Tonga whose properties were damaged and gutted by fire during the riots of November 16, 2006, are suing their insurance company the National Pacific Insurance (Tonga) Ltd, for coverage.

The refusal by the Insurance company to pay for the damage is understood to be because they believed that the destruction of Nuku'alofa during the riots of 16 November 2006 was planned.

The month long trial which entered its second week at the Supreme Court in Nuku'alofa, today, has yet to decide whether the policy that the plaintiffs had with NPI covered the damage caused by the riot.

The plaintiffs are Shoreline Group Ltd., Shoreline Communications Ltd., EM Jones Ltd., Jones Travel Ltd., EM Jones (Koloua) Ltd., Jones Industries Ltd., Joseph Ramanlal Vallabh Trading as Pacific Royale Hotel and the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga. They are all represented by Daniel McLellan assisted by Bridgette White of New Zealand.

The defendant NPI (Tonga) Ltd. is represented by counsel Michael Ring QC, Phillip Rzepecky and Andrew Hooker of New Zealand.

The plaintiffs called a number of witnesses over the past week.

A key witness who started to give his evidence today was Tongatapu People's Representative Samuela 'Akilisi Pohiva. Other key witnesses up this week will include the Minister of Justice Hon. William Clive Edwards and other People's Representatives.

Up to 40 witnesses are expected to be called by both parties during the trial before Mr. Justice Charles Cato.

It is understood that millions of pa'anga in damage are claimed by the plaintiffs from the destruction of their properties caused by the riots that destroyed the Nuku'alofa Central Business District.

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