Tonga Police Chief: Passport Investigation Complex; Have Patience

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Public urged not to speculate, allow accused to have day in court

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Jan. 27, 2016) – Since a Tonga Police Task Force investigation began in August last year, 11 people have been charged in relation to alleged fraudulent activities over the issuing of Tongan passports and the investigation is continuing in Nuku'alofa.

Police Commissioner Stephen Caldwell said today he gave direction for this current phase of the passport investigation, which began on 25 August last year, and since then they have made 11 arrests on wide ranging charges that are now before the Court.

"The police are taking these matters of national security very seriously indeed. The role of police is to maintain law and order and uphold the rule of law, and in doing so police investigate crime by gathering the best evidence available to support the prosecution of any charges laid by the police in a court of law."

He said because of the complexities and wide scope of this investigation, the completion of the investigation may take some time.

"Although recognizing public interest in this matter, I ask for responsibility and restraint in public commentary through the media. There are a number of individuals before the courts and they are entitled to fair trial, based on evidence put before the Courts not on front of newspapers. Also, unhelpful speculative public comments impact the integrity of the police investigation."

The Tonga Police Passport Taskforce is headed by Deputy Commissioner ‘Unga Fa’aoa staffed with 16 investigators.

The accused that have been charged so far include both Tongan and Chinese nationals. It has been widely speculated that more people may be charged.

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