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Court Report

reporters@samoanews.com

SOLOMON ARU

A Vanuatu man, who the government says is a fisherman on a fishing vessel, made his initial appearance yesterday in District Court where he is charged with public peace disturbance, and the government is expecting to soon file additional charges.

Solomon Aru was taken into custody early morning Sunday for allegedly trying to rape a woman, who was sleeping at home with her young child.

During yesterday’s court hearing, Aru denied disturbing the peace and the government informed the court that they are looking at possibly filing additional charges this Thursday  upon completion of the police investigation dealing with the alleged rape.

Court information revealed that the defendant, last Saturday evening, went to a local eatery in Atu’u operated by the alleged victim and asked for a lighter for his cigarette, but the 41-year old woman told the defendant to go away because her business establishment was already closed for the day.

The woman told police that she informed the defendant a couple of times not to show up anymore because the place was closed for the evening, but the defendant allegedly continued to show up wanting a lighter. She also told police that she saw the man walking along the main road and looking at her store.

Sometime in the early morning of Sunday, when the woman and her 8-year old child were asleep, the woman felt someone heavy on top of her and she alleges it was Aru who was allegedly touching her in a sexual manner.

According to police information that when the woman woke up suddenly, the man took off running and the 8-year went screaming after the defendant.

After police were contacted, investigators then went looking for the defendant, who was found working on a fishing vessel, anchored at the small wharf behind the old Samoa Packing facility. Police say that the man had a strong smell of alcohol when he was questioned.

The man denied any action toward the complaining witness, said police. Bail for the defendant is currently set at $200 for the misdemeanor charge and he is scheduled to return to court this Thursday.

If he is able to post bail, he is prohibited from departing the territory while this case is pending in court and he is not to make any direct or indirect contact with the alleged victim.

Prosecutors say they are prepared to issue a stop order for travel to airlines, immigration and others that would prevent this person from leaving American Samoa until this matter is resolved.

(Samoan version of this story, “Tu’uaia se alii fai faiva i le taumafai e fa’amalosi se fafine”, can be found in today’s Le Lali section.)

LOMITUSI UIAGALELEI

A man accused of attacking a neighbor with a shovel was yesterday arraigned in High Court, where a plea of not guilty was entered by the defense attorney. The defendant’s pre trial conference is set for next month.

Lomitusi Uiagalelei is charged with assault in the second degree, a felony, and misdemeanor public peace disturbance for allegedly assaulting the victim with a shovel during a dispute two weeks ago in Auasi over barking dogs.

Uiagalelei first appeared in District Court last Friday for his preliminary examination hearing. He waived that hearing, prompting his case to be bound over to High Court, where the case will be heard until it is adjudicated.

With the not guilty plea entered by defense attorney Marcellus Uiagalelei, the court then scheduled a pre trial conference for June 15. The defendant has already post a $5,000 bail and he has been ordered to comply with several conditions, which includes that he is prohibited from making any direct or indirect contact with the victim or the victim’s family.

According to the government’s case the defendant was upset that the victim’s dog was barking during evening prayers and he allegedly struck the victim’s dog with a shovel. When the victim’s wife approached the defendant, they argued verbally.

Court filings state that the victim got upset and approached the defendant. It’s alleged that the defendant then struck the victim with a shovel on the head and a fight broke out until bystanders intervened and broke up the fight.

(Read Samoan version of this story in Le Lali within  “Tala o Faamasinoga”)



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