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Government refiles, Western District Governor charged

reporters@samoanews.com

Western District Governor Satele Galu Satele Sr. appeared before District Court Judge John Ward yesterday morning after the government refiled charges in connection with Satele allegedly ordering two village officials of Vailoa to damage a grave of a relative last year.

Satele is now charged with property damage second degree, a class A misdemeanor punishable with up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Initial charges filed last year against Satele and two men for trespassing, public peace disturbance (PPD) and property damages were dismissed upon government’s request while they conducted further investigation.

According to court filings, police were contacted by the complaining witness, that the concrete structure built for his father’s grave had been damaged. It is alleged, that the very next day, the complaining witness went to see Satele Sr. who admitted he was responsible for damaging the grave.

Court filings state Satele was not happy with the complaining witness’s father’s grave, because the height of the grave was higher than the graves of the Satele ancestors.

Satele allegedly told police it was he who ordered the grave to be destroyed and he had two village officials do it.

Court documents state that the complaining witness spent more than $200, to repair the damage to his father’s grave.

Satele’s lawyer, Tala Uiagalelei, said the government's case is based on hearsay and they intend to show that there is no real evidence against his client.  “My client will have his day in court, and we look forward to that day”.

Prosecuting this matter was Assistant Attorney General Camille Philippe who was not available to clarify why the government did not file criminal charges against the other two men, whom the government initially charged, in this case.

Before setting the date for Satele's pre-trial conference, Judge Ward told the Paramount Chief to keep the peace in the village.

Satele's pre-trial conference is scheduled on March 23, 2012.



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