Judge warns plaintiff party to consider personal questions against defendant

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Dr Pōhiva Tuʻiʻonetoa (L) and President Liufau Saulala (R)

Justice Michael Scott has warned that questioning the defendant’s past personal affairs could not help in a decision on who will win after the Tokaikolo church sued the Mo’ui Fo’ou ‘Ia Kalaisi church.

The two churches were in court after the Mo’ui Fo’ou ‘Ia Kalaisi church rejected a claim by the president of the Tokaikolo church, Rev. Liufau Saulala, that the church and properties in Kolomotu’a occupied by the Mo’ui Fo’ou belonged to the Tokaikolo.

Mr. Scott made the warning after the lawyer for the Tokaikolo questioned one of the defendant’s witnesses, Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, who is also the Minister for Customs and Revenue, Kakalu ‘o Tonga Newspaper reported.

In a previous hearing of the case, one of the plaintiff’s witnesses alleged Tu’i’onetoa had fathered a child with a student at Lavengamalie college while he was a teacher there. Tu’i’onetoa denied the allegation in court.

The same witness alleged Tu’i’onetoa was mentally disturbed, which Tu’i’onetoa also denied.

Last week the plaintiff’s lawyer attempted to question the Minister on the same issue, but Mr. Scott advised that raising these issues in court would tarnish their churches’ reputation.

The plaintiff’s lawyer argued the issues would help support some of the evidence they had to prove the Tokakaikolo church had the right of ownership to the church and properties in Kolomotu’a.

Mr. Scott agreed, but told the lawyer to consider his advice.

Tu’i’onetoa was one of the former outspoken members of the Tokaikolo who had openly criticised president Rev. Saulala and the way he controlled the church.

The Tokaikolo church formally dismissed Dr Tu’i’onetoa in 2013.

As Kaniva News reported at the time, the Mo’ui Fo’ou ‘Ia Kalaisi church broke away from the Tokaikolo in 2013.

The court case is the latest in a slew of recent church disputes between the Tokaikolo Church and the breakaway Mo’ui Fo’ou ‘Ia Kalaisi church.

Last year the Tokaikolo won a lawsuit it took against the Mo’ui Fo’ou ‘Ia Kalaisi church in Ha’ateiho after it claimed it had the right ownership to the properties and the church in the town.

The main points

  • Justice Michael Scott has warned that questioning the defendant’s past personal affairs could not help in a decision on who will win after the Tokaikolo church sued the Mo’ui Fo’ou ‘Ia Kalaisi church.
  • The two churches were in court after the Mo’ui Fo’ou ‘Ia Kalaisi church rejected a claim by the president of the Tokaikolo church, Rev, Liufau Saulala, that the church and properties in Kolomotu’a occupied by the Mo’ui Fo’ou belonged to the Tokaikolo.
  • Scott made the warning after the lawyer for the Tokaikolo questioned one of the defendant’s witnesses, Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, who is also the Minister for Customs and Revenue, Kakalu ‘o Tonga newspaper reported.

For more information 

Tokaikolo church continues its dismissal campaign 

Tokaikolo church members defect to new evangelical fellowship

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