Lord Tu’ilakepa to be sentenced next week

If a former Speaker of the Tongan Parliament, Lord Tu’ilakepa will be sentenced on February 5 to two or more years of imprisonment his rights and entitlements as noble of the crown will all be stripped off.

The offence has a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

The current Vavaʻu Noble’s representative pleaded guilty to four counts relate to possession of firearms without a license and two others relate to possession of ammunition without a license.

In 2010 Tongan Police acted on a tip-off from the Australian Federal Police after a global trafficking operation that allegedly used yachts to carry cocaine from South America through Tonga to Australia and China was uncovered.

It was alleged the syndicate responsible for the illegal drug activity bribed Lord Tu’ilakepa to sponsor a Colombian drug boss to go to the kingdom in an attempt to facilitate shipments of the drugs.

Letters and tapped telephone records revealed how Lord Tu’ilakepa communicated with the drugs syndicate.

Tongan Police raided Lord Tuʻilakepa’s premises in 2010 and instead of getting drugs they were looking for they found the firearms and the ammunitions.

Tongan constitution stipulated that if a noble was found guilty of possessing ammunitions and firearms without having licenses he would lose all his rights and entitlements as a noble.

But since some of the nobles were recently charged over possessing weapons and ammunitions without holding licenses an amendment to the Tongan law in 2013 was made. It says a noble would not lose his job as a civil servant or his noble title even if he was found guilty and sentenced to less than two years in jail.

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