Prosecutor recommends $10,000 fine for Ha’apai governor who was convicted of unlawful possession of turtle meat

The crown prosecutor has recommended a fine of TOP$10,000 for Viliami Manuopangai Hingano after he was convicted of unlawful possession of 198kg of turtle meat.

Ha’apai governor Viliami Manuopangai Hingano

But the governor’s lawyer has argued a $1,000 fine was appropriate, the Kakalu ‘O Tonga newspaper reports.

The Supreme Court is expected to sentence Hingano tomorrow Wednesday 19.

Hingano, 46, was in possession of the turtle meat out of the shell, without it being certified by an authorised officer that it came from a turtle of legal size.

He pleaded not guilty and elected trial by judge alone.

Hingano told the court that he had no guilty intent to commit this offence and that he did not know that the law required that there be prior approval to kill a turtle.

But Judge Niu didn’t buy it.

Judge Niu said: “Having heard the accused‘s background, he being a director in the Ministry of Public Enterprises, and he had been a member of Parliament representing District 12 of Ha’apai which included Lofanga, and having grown up and living in Ha’apai, I do not believe his evidence that he did not know that an approval was required before a turtle was killed”.

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