Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 11:44
THE four men and three women jurors selected for the one month long Ashika trial were discharged this morning because one of the male jurors had a criminal record. Justice Robert Shuster told the court, that it was brought to his attention that one member of the jurors had a previous conviction and after discussing with counsels, he decided to discharge the whole jury. He said this was to ensure a fair trial and also to eliminate the possibility of whether discussion or friendship had taken place among them. The registrar was then ordered to call another panel of jury for selection on the morning of Friday February 11 with opening arguments by counsel on Monday, February 14. Conviction The one male juror from Veitongo had a previous conviction in relation to offences during the November 16 riots. It is understood he received a suspended imprisonment sentence at the Supreme Court. The jury selection held on February 7 did not ask whether the potential jurors had a criminal record and they were asked only whether they had any affiliation with any of the defendants and presiding counsels. After a local reporter informed the Crown Prosecutor of the jury member having a criminal record, it was then confirmed yesterday by the court. The jurors selected yesterday were from various communities in Tongatapu.