A confrontation at the Vava’u police station this afternoon led to police releasing a man they had arrested and charged after he allegedly swam in the sea during Christmas day.
Neiafu town officer Vāvā Lapota said his 21-year-old son was arrested today and intended to be remanded in custody after the police claimed he had breached the kingdom’s Christmas Day law.
He said the police called and told him to bring bedding for his son as he was expected to remain in custody, apparently overnight, while they were processing his charges.
Lapota told Kaniva News he arrived at the police station and confronted the police officer who was working on his son’s arrest.
He said he told her that his son should be processed and released without being held in prison.
He claimed the police officer insisted she needed more time because of staffing shortages.
However, Lapota pointed her to several police officers who he said were standing around in the office.
He said he asked the police officer why they didn’t stop the Lulutai aircraft from doing business on Christmas as it is an apparent breach of the Christmas Day services prohibition.
He said no response was given to his question.
He said a Lulutai aircraft had conducted several flight services on Vava’u today, during Christmas.
“That’s unfair”, he said in Tongan.
Lapota said the police finally agreed and released his son. However, they told him that his son should expect receiving his charging document after Christmas.
The police and Lulutai airlines could not be reached for comment.
Under Tongan law, people are not allowed to conduct business or work on Sundays. Public transport is also not available on Sundays.
The law stipulates that activities such as swimming, playing sport, dancing, listening to loud music, and fishing are illegal on Sundays.
It says Christmas Day and Good Friday must be observed in compliance with Sunday laws.
The law also gives the Minister of Police the power to grant exemption especially in a state of emergency.