Tonga’s Deputy Speaker Will Face Firearms Charges Next Year

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Tonga’s Deputy Speaker Will Face Firearms Charges Next Year Judge dismisses motion to quash indictment of Lord Tu’iha’ateiho

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Nov. 29, 2013) – The Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga Lord Tu’iha’ateiho pleaded not guilty today to one count of possession of a firearm without a license regarding a .22 semi-automatic pistol.

Lord Tu’iha’ateiho elected to be tried by judge alone. The tentative dates of November 24-28, 2014 were confirmed for trial. A pre-trial conference was set for November 17, 2014.

The case was called before Mr Justice Charles Cato at the Nuku'alofa Supreme Court who dismissed an application by the defence to quash the indictment on the basis of abuse of process.

Argument

The judge made his ruling after hearing legal submissions regarding the motion by the defence represented by Kahungunu Afeaki SC, that the criminal summon in the Magistrate’s Court charged the accused with possession of a firearm without a license, and disclosed the particulars of the offence that the accused was in possession of a .22 automatic pistol.

However, in the indictment issued in the Supreme Court, the particulars of the offence was different and stated that the accused was in possession of a .22 semi-automatic pistol.

He argued that this was prejudicial to the accused because there was no notice by the Crown of this change in the particulars.

On the other hand, the Crown represented by Sione Sisifa argued that the police armourer's report clearly stated that the pistol was a .22 semi-automatic pistol.

The report was part of the prosecution committal papers which were disclosed on the defence and the defence were already given amble notice of its intention to issue an indictment on the basis of a .22 semi-automatic pistol, said the Crown Prosecutor.

Mr Justice Cato ruled in favour of the Crown and dismissed the application by the defence.

The noble is on bail until the tentative dates set.

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