AG says Samoa’s Minister of Justice arrest warrant still valid

Warrant is a court order, so only court can resolve or dismiss it

Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale says the arrest warrant that was issued back in 2008 in the territory for Samoa’s Minister of Justice, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u on criminal charges of embezzlement, criminal fraud and felony stealing, is still valid. However he told Samoa News the AG’s office does not play a role in the execution of the arrest warrant. The warrant in Ainu’u’s name is on allegations that he was paid by a client for court representation however the accused failed to appear in court.

The arrest warrant in question, was issued by the Attorney General’s office back in 2008 when Fepulea’i Arthur Ripley was AG. Last month Ainu’u was sworn in to Samoa’s Parliament as a cabinet member and is the new Minister for the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration.

Responding to Samoa News queries, Talauega said the District Court of American Samoa issued the Arrest Warrant on August 5, 2008 for the arrest of Katopau Ainu’u. It is directed to the Commissioner of Public Safety or any Police Officer of American Samoa. “We have confirmed with the Court that the warrant has not been extinguished. Thus, it is still valid,” the AG said.

“The Office of the Attorney General has no role in the execution of the warrant. Further, because the warrant is a Court Order, only the Court has the authority to resolve or extinguish it, not the Attorney General,” he said. “I note that the warrant is almost 8 years old, and although we have not received confirmation, it appears that Mr. Ainu’u may have resolved the underlying issues, which resulted in the filing of the criminal complaint. To the extent that he has done this and provides proof of same, we would not object to a motion by Mr. Ainu’u to quash or resolve the warrant.”

Samoa News was unable to get a direct comment from Ainu’u in Samoa, as he was not answering his cell phone. It’s unclear as to when the court will entertain a motion to quash the arrest warrant, as the motion hasn’t been filed yet.

According to the arrest warrant that was signed by Associate Justice John L Ward, Ainu’u, an attorney by trade is accused of embezzlement, criminal fraud and felony stealing, on allegations that he was paid by a client for court representation however the accused failed to appear in court. The arrest warrant says that bail set for the accused is $10,000.

According to the affidavit, the accused at the time was given $5,000 from a client, however the accused did not appear in court.

Ainu’u is the Member of Parliament for Vaimauga West and is the first MP from the constituency to be a Cabinet Minister in a while. This was his second time up for election, after he failed to gain the seat in 2011.

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