19 Jan 2007

Tongan pro-democracy leader says truth behind riot will come out

7:11 pm on 19 January 2007

Tonga's leading pro-democracy MP Akilisi Pohiva says the motivation behind the November 16 riot will be revealed in court.

He was granted bail after the Chief Justice overturned a ruling by the Magistrates Court for Mr Pohiva to be further detained.

Mr Pohiva is the second pro-democracy MP to be implicated in the riot, which resulted in seven deaths and major damage to the capital's central business district.

His fellow people's Representative, Isileli Pulu, was arrested last week and has been charged with manslaughter, sedition and abetting wilful damage to property.

Our correspondent in Tonga, Mateni Tapueluelu, says Mr Pohiva, who is facing four charges of sedition, says all the facts will be revealed in court.

"He says that the people will know the truth, that they didn't plan it. He knew what the people were upset about. They were upset because the very peaceful approach that they'd made to the government demanding political reform hadn't worked. And he knew why their anger spilled out and this is why he made a statement to that effect, which is now interpreted by the government as meaning that they (the pro-democracy movement) did plan it.'"

Mateni Tapueluelu says further arrests of pro-democracy movement figures are expected.