26 Face Serious Criminal Charges For Home Attack In Tonga

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123 individuals sentenced after pleading guilty to abetment

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Feb. 4, 2014) – Twenty-four Tupou College students and two adults in Tonga have been charged with serious criminal offences, including attempted murder, attempted arson, grievous bodily harm, and bodily harm, in relation to a violent attack at a home in Tofoa last year.

They are also charged with serious housebreaking, being rioters unlawfully damaging a building, and abetment to rioters who unlawfully damaged a building.

The core group of accused were all charged with the criminal offences, and a Magistrate adjourned their case to March 24 this year for committal to the Supreme Court for trial.

Night attack

A total of 152 people were charged with various offences when they appeared at the Nuku'alofa Magistrate's Court yesterday, February 3, in relation to the attack on the night of July 18, 2013.

A total of 123 accused, mostly students, were sentenced yesterday after pleading guilty to lesser charges of abetment.

Three students were discharged for lack of evidence against them.

The attack injured two victims, with Tonga College ex-student Taniela Halahuni left in a coma and a Tonga College student Daniel Mahe Jr with head and other injuries. Both victims have since been discharged from hospital.

The Crown was led by the Solicitor-General 'Aminiasi Kefu and assisted by Sione Sisifa.

Apologies

Eighty-one students all pleaded guilty to charges of abetment to rioters who unlawfully damaged a building. Counsel agreed that their cases were to be dealt with in the jurisdiction of the Magistrate's Court.

Magistrate Mafi ordered each of the 81 students to write a letter to the court apologizing to the people of Tonga, to Lu'isa Mahe (a teacher) and the victims, and also to the principals of Tonga College and Tupou College by 18 February 2014. Each student was ordered to pay compensation of TOP$200 [US$106] to the court within one-month.

Compensation

Another 42 students who were charged with unlawfully damaging a building also pleaded guilty, after their counsel agreed for their case to be dealt with at the lower court.

Magistrate Mafi ordered each of the 42 students to write a letter to the court apologizing to the people of Tonga, to Lu'isa Mahe and the victims, and to the principals of Tonga College and Tupou College by 18 February 2014. Each student was ordered to pay compensation of TOP$220 [US$116] to the court within one-month.

Bargain

The Crown stated that sentences passed for the students who pleaded guilty were on the understanding that they were to be convicted and sentenced without any implications on their currently good record due to the fact they were first offenders, their young age and the seriousness of their offending.

Local counsel Tomasi Fakahua and Petunia Tupou represented all the accused.

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