31 Oct 2007

Tongan lawyer says more riot trials could end in acquittals

2:36 pm on 31 October 2007

A lawyer representing a number of those charged over the rioting in Tonga a year ago says unless police focus on who instigated the violence, more trials can be expected to fall over.

There have been just a handful of convictions to date with the latest Supreme Court trial resulting in acquittals yesterday of six of the seven accused.

A pro-democracy MP, Clive Edwards, who himself is to face trial on a sedition charge in connection with the riot, says many of the accused had had confessions extracted under duress.

"There are a number of those aspects at these trials that are going to affect the Crown securing convictions where people were ill treated, instead of specifically dealing with those who were responsible, or directly responsible, in causing the destruction. And this is the problem at this point in time. Until they clear that up I don't think that the juries will be convicting people."

Clive Edwards