Illicit drugs: man found guilty for bid to bribe Tongatapu cop

The man who tried to bribe a Police officer as an inducement to release him after he was found with illicit drugs in his car in Nuku’alofa has been found guilty.

‘Epuefi Laimani was charged with four counts of possession of 5.15 g methamphetamine, possession of 3.59 g cannabis, offering to bribe a member of Tonga Police and offering to bribe officer Fifita  with $50 and $3000.

The court was told that on 10 October 2018, three Police officers drove east along Vuna Road in an unmarked Police car.

They passed a vehicle parked opposite the Tanoa Hotel. One of the officers recognised the convict sitting inside the vehicle.

He knew him from a previous drugs search conducted that year. They tum their car around and stopping behind Laimani’s car.

Detective Fifita then got out and asked Laimani what he was doing.  Laimani said: “Officer Fifita, I am just catching the air,” the court judgement read.

Laimani then  handed $50 to Detective Fifita who responded: “I cannot take the money.”

Detective Fifita then told Laimani to step out of the vehicle. Instead, Laimani reached out under the steering wheel to a compartment from which he got an amount of cash including $100 and $50 notes. He grabbed the officer’s hand and tried to push the notes into it, whilst saying “Please bro, please bro”. Detective Fifita did not accept it.

The convict then reached into his right pants pocket, took out a can and threw it towards his feet inside the car. Detective Fifita opened the car door and seized the can. Officer Pohiva joined him at the side of the car and assisted in taking Laimani out of the vehicle.

Laimani was arrested and taken to Nu’ukalofa police station where he was charged with possession of illicit drugs and bribery.

Justice Nick Cooper in delivering Laimani’s guilty verdict said he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Laimani was in unlawful possession of methamphetamine and cannabis and offered bribes to Officer Fifita.

“I therefore find him guilty, and he is convicted, of all four counts”.

Laimani was told to appear in court on 3 May 2021 for sentencing.

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