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Lord Chief Justice refused application for a joint trial in passport offences

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 3/12/2019

Lord Chief Justice Michael Whitten on the 3rd of December refused an application from the crown for a joint trial for three accused in passport offences. The accused are Lord Tu’ivakano, ‘Ileana Taulua and ‘Isapela Tu’akoi.

The prosecution applied for a joint trial because the case against Lord Tu’ivakano are founded on the same facts as the cases of the other two accused.

In addition, the offence alleged against Tu’ivakano was of similar character to the other two and there would be no injustice to him, if the three were heard together by a single jury.

The submission was opposed by Clive Edwards Sr. Lord Tu’ivakano’s counsel.

Edwards said there is a commonality of facts across the charges concerning all three accused, and if all charges were heard in one trial they would total at 28 counts. Not only that the offences alleged against Tu’ivakano form or are part of, a series of offences of a similar character to the offences alleged against the other two accused – there would be no injustice to Tu’ivakano if the three indictments were heard together by a single jury.

However, with Lord Chief Justice Whitten refusing the application, there will now be separate trials for Lord Tu’ivakano and the other two accused in 2020.

Tu’ivakano is charged with two counts of money laundering, two counts of perjury, one count of making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining a passport, six counts of accepting a bribe as a government servant, 2 counts of possession of a firearm without a license and one count of possession of ammunition without a license.

Tu’akoi is charged with 4 counts of making a false declaration and 4 counts of forgery and Taulua is charged with five counts of making a false declaration and one count of possession of an unlawfully issued passport.

Each of the accused has pleaded not guilty to all counts.


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