Pōhiva approaches king with proposal to sack attorney general

The Prime Minister of Tonga Hon ‘Akilisi Pohiva has approached His Majesty King Tupou VI with a proposal to dismiss the Acting Attorney General ‘Aminiasi Kefu local media have reported.

The Attorney General can only be dismissed or replaced by the King according to the constitution.

It was claimed the proposal was handed in to the king in a meeting with Pohiva last week.

The details of the submission was not immediately clear but Letio Tonga 87.5 said the Prime Minister obviously was still not satisfied with the performance of the Attorney General since the new government began this year.

Previous report:

In February Hon. Pohiva accused  Kefu of interfering in Lord Tuʻilakepa’s fire arms case.

Lord Tu’ilakepa was sentenced in January and ordered to pay fine of TP$10,000 within 14 days after pleading guilty to firearms and ammunition charges.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and if Lord Tu’ilapeka had been  jailed for two or more years he would have lost all his noble privileges and title.

He escaped the jail terms and still holds his title.

In a letter released to the media, the Prime Minister said Kefu appeared to have interfered  “with the independence and impartiality of a pending decision by a Supreme Judge of His Majesty’s Judiciary.”

The Prime Minister has demanded that Kefu responds to what he described as his “grave concerns.”

Kefu told Kaniva News at the time he had just seen the letter as he was traveling overseas and would return and deal with the matter.

“I am fully prepared to answer and it is based on a total misunderstanding of judicial proceedings, and the role of the AG”, Kefu said.

Hon. Pohiva claimed Kefu, the principal legal officer who represents the Crown and the state in legal proceedings, appeared to have attempted “to reduce the severity of the case”.

He argued that Kefu failed in his role to bring full justice against Lord Tu’ilakepa.

He also accused him of trying to diminish the severity of the case in comments made on air.

The Prime Minister said  Lord Tu’ilakepa should have been treated the same way as the other people involved in the case.

Police laid firearms charges against Lords Lasike, Tu’ilakepa and Tuʻihaʻateiho, for illegal possession of firearms and weapons several years ago.

Hon. Pohiva said Lord Lasike’s case was heard four years ago. Lord Tu’ilakepa was only heard this year and Lord Tu’iha’ateiho’s case is yet to be heard.

He expressed concern about the different sentences handed down to Lord Lasike and Lord Tu’ilakepa, saying he found them “to be discriminating and excessive”.

According to the Prime Minister’s letter, only one bullet case was found in Lord Lasike’s residence while two caches of ammunitions were found at Lord Tu’ilakepa’s residences, in Longolongo and Ofu.

The Prime Minister said Kefu should have not pleaded for a lesser sentence for Lord Tu’ilakepa during his court prosecution hearing.

“Is it normal for a Crown Barrister like the Solicitor and acting Attorney General and now acting Attorney General, to be directly involved in seeking a lesser severe penalty for the defendant with the presiding judge of a case?” the Prime Minister said.

Hon Pohiva told Kefu his attitude may have been accepted by former administrations but it “has no place in my government”.

“The prolonged and unnecessary delay in bringing the case of Lord Tu’ilakepa to court baffled me,” the Prime Minister said.

 

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