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Court Report

reporters@samoanews.com

POLICE OFFICERS FITI AINA AND ROCKY TUA APPEAR IN DISTRICT COURT

Police officers Fiti Aina and Rocky Tua spent the weekend at the Tafuna Correctional Facility, and are being held on bail of $15,000 each on charges of aiding the escape of a prisoner, permitting escape, and public servant acceding to corruption.

Each count is a class D felony which is punishable by up to five years in jail,  a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

The officers made their initial appearance in District Court yesterday morning, in orange jumpsuits before District Court Judge John Ward, and are being represented by Assistant Public Defender Karen Shelley while prosecuting this matter is Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop.

According to the government’s case, on July 20, 2012 the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) conducted a surprise shakedown at the jail, where an alcoholic beverage was observed in one of the cells. It’s alleged that an investigation revealed that police officers were sending out inmates unsupervised to a nearby store to purchase beer.

The government claims that Detective Poutoa I’amanu Jr. was assigned to investigate this matter. During the investigation, it came to light that TCF inmate Tagaleo’o was observed unsupervised at a nearby store shopping on the evening of July 19, 2012.

Court affidavit states that Tagaleo’o was sentenced on first degree assault on July 21, 2012 where the court ordered the defendant to serve the term of detention of 40 months inside TCF with credit for time served in pre-trial confinement and no release whatsoever except for genuine medical emergency or by order of the court.

Police questioned Tagaleo’o and he indicated that he was given permission by Correction officer Tua to go to the store to do his shopping. Tagaleo’o allegedly told police that he was sent to the store on July 19, 2012, two nights before CID conducted the raid.

Inmate Ofoia told police that officer Tua gave him the cell keys with instructions to open the cell to allow Tagaleo’o to go to the store to purchase beer, a phone card, cookies and sodas.

Court affidavit says another inmate allegedly told police that he witnessed Officer Tua instructing Tagaleo’o to go do the shopping. The witness said the money for the purchases came from another inmate by the name of Maosi Fualaau.

The witness stated the purchased goods were left behind the TCF church to be picked up sometime later. He said he picked up beer, phone cards, cookies and soda that were left behind the church by Tagaleo’o.

The witness further stated that he gave the phone card, cookies and sodas to Officer Tua and the officer instructed him to hold on the beer for inmate Fualaau. According to the government’s case Tagaleo’o told police that he was sent twice to the store by Officer Tua, and the first time he went to the store he saw inmate Raponi Sefo Isaulaiga also at the store.

However Tagaleo’o said the second time he was sent to the store, he cannot recall the exact time he was sent to the store to purchase beer. Court affidavit says, Tagaleo’o indicated that Police Officer Aina had also sent him to the store to purchase beer however he didn't recall the exact date but it was earlier this year.

The preliminary examination hearings for the officers are scheduled later this week.

ASG MOVES TO REVOKE BAIL FOR TAU MALAE

The High Court has scheduled Oct. 15, 2012 to hear the government’s motion to revoke bail against Tau Malae who’s facing sex related charges on allegations that he performed sexual acts with his wife’s two nieces last year. He’s charged with sodomy, two charges of first degree sexual abuse, two counts of deviate sexual assault and rape in the first matter.

According to the government’s motion Tau Malae was ordered by the High Court on Feb. 2, 2012 to remain a law abiding citizen as a condition of his pretrial release, and was not to have any contact, directly or indirectly with the complaining witnesses in this case. However the defendant has failed to abide by both of these conditions of his release.

The government claims that the Defendant and his wife Miracle Malae have been charged with Tampering with a Witness, and Concealing an Offense, on the allegations in the new case against the Defendant and his wife that they had regular contact with both of the complaining witnesses in this case, despite the Court’s Order. 

The government alleges both the Defendant and his wife are responsible for applying for new travel documents for the complaining witnesses and are responsible for their one way tickets to Samoa.

According to the government, the defendant has failed to remain law abiding in accordance with his pretrial release conditions, and has failed refrain from any direct or indirect contact with the complaining witnesses in this case.

The government moved for the court to revoke his bail and remanded the defendant into custody without bond until his trial date on Nov.13, 2012 says the motion.  

The case was on the court calendar to be heard today however the defendant’s lawyer Fiti Sunia asked the court to re-schedule the hearing on this matter to a later date so he can be prepared for this hearing.

Deputy AG Jessop did not object to the request. Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond, accompanied on the bench by Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr, granted the request for a brief continuance.

MAPU TOLO

The government is looking at filing felony charges against Mapu Tolo following an accident over the weekend which landed two of the passengers in the vehicle in the LBJ hospital.

Tolo is currently charged with Driving under the Influence of alcohol (DUI) and careless driving. According to the government’s case Tolo had three passengers in the vehicle, as he was heading to A’asu when the vehicle ran off the road in Mapusaga Fou.

Tolo and one passenger were treated and released, while another passenger was taken to the Intensive Care Unit and later transferred to the surgical ward. The third passenger was also admitted to surgical ward.

Police said the two in surgical ward, a male and female, are recovering slowly at the moment. Tolo was released over the weekend on bail of $500 and made his initial appearance in the District Court yesterday morning.

The defendant, who is represented by the Public Defenders office, is scheduled to appear in court this Friday for a status hearing. Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Camille Philippe.



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