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District court dismisses without prejudice Titifalaula Siaumau drug case

Translated by Samoa News staff

Based on a request by the government, the District Court has dismissed “without prejudice” two felony drug charges against Titifalaula Siaumau following the defendant’s preliminary examination hearing last week.

Siaumau was initially charged early this month with unlawful possession of a controlled substance — marijuana and conspiracy to unlawful possession of marijuana.

According to court information a package arrived unaccompanied as cargo on a Hawaiian Airlines flight and the package, which allegedly contained 5 pounds of marijuana, was hidden inside a speaker, and was addressed to Felix Bavarosa, an employee of CSL Cargo Service.

During a preliminary examination hearing last Wednesday before District Court Judge Fiti A. Sunia, the government planned to called two witnesses — Bavarosa and the police detective who conducted the investigation.

Assistant attorney general Jerald Murphy prosecuted the case while private attorney Sharron Rancourt represented the defendant.

During his testimony, Bavarosa recalled how the package was addressed to him, saying that Siaumau allegedly called him at his office for help in bringing in a package, which contained a speaker, from the U.S.

It was revealed in court that Bavarosa had been working for some 3 years at CSL in Tafuna and among his duties is to pick up the company’s cargo from the Pago Pago International Airport when Hawaiian Airlines arrives. He not only picks up the company’s cargo but also for the company’s clients, who ship their packages or cargo with CSL, a freight forwarding company.

Although it is not in accordance with company policy, Bavarosa said he agreed to have his name used to ship the package and also to make it easy for Siaumau, who asked him.

While waiting for the shipment to arrive, Bavarosa alleges he kept in contact with Siaumau via phone. On the night the package arrived, Bavarosa wasn’t working, while another employee of the company went to pick up the company’s cargo. It was on that evening that the Customs Office at the airport didn’t release the package addressed to Bavarosa, because the office suspected that illegal drugs were in the shipment.

The company employee, who was at the airport to pick up the CSL cargo, then contacted Bavarosa, who went to the airport that night.

Bavarosa told the court that Customs agents checked the package and found a speaker inside, but a further inspection of the speaker found marijuana. When questioned by police, Bavarosa explained why his name was on the package.

Rancourt asked if Bavarosa knew that illegal drugs were inside the speaker and the witness responded “no” and this was also the same response when Rancourt asked if her client told the witness that drugs were inside the speaker.

The defense asked the witness if he is being charged by the government in this case, to which Bavarosa said no, adding that he agreed to testify truthfully for the government as to what happened in the case.

Sunia then called the attorneys to the bench for a brief discussion and it’s unclear as to what was discussed. Thereafter, Murphy moved to dismiss the charges without prejudice and the government said it planned to re-file the case in the future. Rancourt agreed to the motion, whereby the court granted it.

The defendant was out on $10,000 bail, but is now free.

It’s unclear when the government will re-file the case.