Friday, July 27, 2007

Sedition in Tonga: an acquittal

Since the Nuku'alofa riots in Novemeber last year, the Tongan government has launched a crackdown on the opposition, prosecuting a number of People's Representatives (elected MPs) and democracy campaigners for sedition for their role in "inciting" the riots. However, there's been a significant victory for the Tongan opposition today, with the acquittal of Sione Halafuka Vea on sedition charges.

Halafuka Vea had given a speech the day before the riots, in which he said that the crowd would be going to Parliament the next day. The government had claimed that this helped incite the subsequent riots, however this was rejected unanimously by a jury. It's not the end - five People's Representatives are still facing charges - but it is a good sign.