7 Dec 2002

Tongan pro-democracy politician and journalists win case against government

10:06 am on 7 December 2002

A pro-democracy politician in Tonga and two journalists have won a case for damages against the government after being wrongly jailed for 30 days.

'Akilisi Pohiva and Times of Tonga journalists Eakalafi Moala and Filokalafi 'Akau'ola were awarded a total of nearly 26,000 U.S. dollars by a Supreme court judge who found they endured a grave injustice.

They were imprisoned after Mr Pohiva told the Times newspaper in 1996 that he planned to introduce an impeachment motion against the then Justice Minister Tevita Tupou for travelling to the Atlanta Olympics without permission.

The paper published the information before it was tabled in the house and as a result Police Minister Clive Edwards introduced a contempt of parliament motion.

The three were then jailed but were freed on a writ of habeas corpus and a court later found they had been wrongly jailed.

Justice Ford found that the men had been denied access to visitors or writing materials and special restrictions had been placed on their detention.