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Court Report


The Independent Prosecutor's cases have been scheduled for pre-trial conference on Sept 11, 2012 with the trial division of the High Court, by Associate Justice Lyle Richmond accompanied on the bench by Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr.

These cases involve Filifa'atali Mike Fuiava, the former Deputy Police Commissioner, and Marie Ripley, former Manager of the Office of Motor Vehicle, as well as former director of Department of Human Social Services and current Vice Speaker of the House Talia Fa’afetai I’aulualo.

During the status hearing on this matter yesterday, IP Tala Uiagalelei told the court that David Vargas, representing Ripley, has already assessed the IP files filed in this matter.

During the last hearing on this matter in May, the IP told the parties that he was willing to open up files for the defense at his office. Uiagalelei also put it to Sharron Rancourt, attorney for Talia and Filifa'atali, she too can review the files if she wishes.

Rancourt, told the court she does have a pending motion that the court hadn't made a ruling on and it relates to Filifa'atali's case. The defense lawyers have yet to decide if they will file a motion disqualifying Uiagalelei to prosecute the IP cases given his familial relationship to Associate Justice Lyle Richmond who is presiding over all three cases.

During the last hearing, Uiagalelei said he wanted to know “if counsels are looking at filing motions disqualifying me, given my familial relationship with your honor (Associate Justice Lyle Richmond) who is presiding in all these cases.” “I’d like to get that out of the way” he stated.

“I’m already getting into preparation for whatever and however this case is to proceed and I’d like counselors to bring that into the record,” said Uiagalelei.

The Associate Justice said that there would be an issue of necessity as there is no other judge that can sit on the three cases.

Ripley is charged in connection with the issuance of a forged drivers license for a Tongan national and faces counts of forgery, possession of a forging instrument, and public servant acceding to corruption.

Filifa'atali is charged with tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution.

It’s alleged that Ripley prepared and issued a driver’s license to a Tongan citizen, Rosemarie Rose Huni, using a Social Security number that belonged to another person.

The charges filed against Fuiava allege that he attempted to stop officers from investigating the case regarding the fake drivers license. I’aulualo is facing three counts of embezzlement, for a crime he allegedly committed about four years ago when he was director of DHSS.


A boxer from Samoa, Aukuso Fa’amanu who was accused of having sex with a 16-year old girl, has entered into a plea agreement with the government. Fa’amanu of Fasito’outa, Samoa was initially charged with rape, deviate sexual assault, sexual abuse, and endangering the welfare of a child. However Fa’amanu pleaded guilty yesterday, to deviate sexual assault, while the government moved to dismiss the remaining charges.

According to the plea agreement, the defendant’s guilty plea admits that on November 3, 2011 he had deviate sexual intercourse with the complaining witness who is under the age of sixteen.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse who was accompanied on the bench with Chief Associate Judge Logoai Siaki and Associate Judge Fa’amausili Pomele accepted the plea agreement.

Kruse said the court has sole responsibility for determining an appropriate sentence within the limit of the law. Kruse told the defendant that if the court accepts his guilty plea and imposes a different sentence than that recommended by counsels he may not come back and wish to withdraw his guilty plea.

According to the government’s case, the defendant came to the territory to take part in the Moso’oi Festival last year with the Samoa Amateur Boxing Club.

Fa’amanu remains in jail with bail set at $100,000.


A 75-year old man was accused of inappropriately touching his granddaughter and appeared in the High Court yesterday for his pre-trial conference hearing. Deputy Mitzie Jessop informed the court the government has yet to provide the defense counsel with the discovery on this matter.

She explained the discovery will be handed over shortly and they are continuing negotiations on this matter and a resolution will be coming soon.

Ms Jessop asked the High Court for a continuance. Assistant Public Defender Mike White did not object to the government’s motion which was granted by Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond and scheduled another pre-trial conference on July 20, 2012.

The grandfather is charged with one count of sodomy, deviate sexual act, sexual abuse in the first degree and endangering the welfare of a child. According to the government’s case the grandfather inappropriately touched the victim on numerous occasions.

Samoa News is withholding the name of the defendant to protect the identity of the victim.

According to the government’s case the victim told police that these incidents started last December until February of this year.

 The victim eventually reported the matter to her school counselor, who questioned her about a prolong absence from school.  The defendant is held on bail of $30,000.