Tuvalu Chief Judge Suspended

By Samisoni Pareti

The Chief Justice of Tuvalu, Australian Queens Counsel Charles Sweeney has been suspended.

In a dramatic turn of events, the new government of Tuvalu says Judge Sweeney will be investigated on allegations of judicial misconduct by a two-member tribunal.

This development was signed into law late yesterday in Funafuti – Tuvalu’s capital – by acting Governor General Teniku Talesi.

Islands Business believes Sweeney is currently in Funafuti, as his court had been sitting this week. He works out of his Brisbane law firm otherwise, and only flies in when the High Court of Tuvalu is in session.

IB was also told that Tuvalu’s new minister for justice Simon Kofe spoke on national radio today to announce the Chief Justice’s suspension and the formation of an independent tribunal.

Former Governor General Sir Iakoba Italeli has been named as tribunal chair. He was an unsuccessful candidate in the islands’ general elections two weeks ago.

Former PM Enele Sopoaga retook his seat easily in the polls, but failed to muster enough support to form the government when the new parliament sat in Funafuti on Thursday this week.

He could only win the votes of 5 other MPs, while Kausea Natano and his group got the majority of 10 MPs. Natano was elected PM and he named eight MPs in his group into his cabinet, with the 10th MP, Sam P Teo, elected Speaker of the House.