Lavulavu couple ordered to vacate government house as new trial expected to start soon

The Ministry of Infrastructure says the former convicted Cabinet Ministers ‘Etuate and ‘Akosita Lavulavu have been served with eviction notice to end their tenancy at the government property at Sopu.

‘Etuate and AKosita Lavulavu

In a statement this morning the Ministry said the couple was vacating the property at Halavuna road which had been allotted to them as MPs.

The government needed the property for further development, it said.

The Lavulavu were jailed in 2021 for corruption and fraud connected with a school they ran.

‘Etuate and others founded a private education institute in Tonga in 2003. Etuate was its president and his wife ‘Akosita was its director.

In 2022, the Court of Appeal overturned the original sentence, ruling that the judge in the earlier trial had not been impartial. The Court of Appeal ordered that the duo be re-tried in the Supreme Court.

Before the re-trial ‘Akosita claimed that Justice Langi would be biased because she had been working at the Attorney General’s office when the charges were first laid.

A court decision said the appeal had no merit.

On  October 10, 2022 the Court of Appeal quashed their convictions and ordered a retrial.

The government’s property previously occupied by the Lavulavu marked in blue. Image/ Ministry of Infrastructure

The Court of Appeal said there was ample evidence to support findings of apparent bias on the part of the Judge, that the trial was unfair and that the verdicts could not stand.

However, the Court was satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to support convictions on a correct application of relevant legal principles.

As Kaniva News reported recently, the latest stage in the legal saga surrounding the Lavulavus was adjourned until last month, April 2.

The Supreme Court was conducting voir dire hearings.

According to Attorney General Linda Simiki Folaumoetu’i, voir dire hearings are a means of investigating whether police and people involved in collecting evidence for a trial had done so legally and lawfully.

The Attorney General said after the voir dire hearing on April 2, the new trial would begin.

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

Right now Kaniva News provides a free, politically independent, bilingual news service for readers around the world that is absolutely unique. We are the largest New Zealand-based Tongan news service, and our stories reach Tongans  wherever they are round the world. But as we grow, there are increased demands on Kaniva News for translation into Tongan on our social media accounts and for the costs associated with expansion. We believe it is important for Tongans to have their own voice and for Tongans to preserve their language, customs and heritage. That is something to which we are strongly committed. That’s why we are asking you to consider sponsoring our work and helping to preserve a uniquely Tongan point of view for our readers and listeners.

Latest news

Related news