Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tonga: not guilty

Five men, including a People's Representative, have been acquitted of sedition charges over speeches they gave in the lead-up to the 2006 riots:

A jury this afternoon at the Nuku'alofa Supreme Court found five men not guilty of sedition charges relating to the riots and destruction of Nuku'lofa, November 16, 2006.

Chief Justice Anthony Ford had last week discharged a sixth accused Siale Fihaki of sedition charges due to insufficient evidence.

The jury of seven men delivered their unanimous verdict in court at around 1:40pm this afternoon after deliberating in closed chambers for about 30 minutes.

The government has now prosecuted over a dozen people - including five sitting People's Representatives - for sedition over the riots, and every single one of them has been acquitted. I guess Tongan juries know political persecution when they see it. The question is what will the kleptocracy do now - will they bow to the public and install a truly democratic political system, or continue to try and cling to power through oppression?