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Judge Sunia scolds Immigration Office over court no-shows

District Court Judge Fiti Sunia

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — District Court Judge Fiti Sunia made it clear yesterday morning that the Immigration Office is not doing what it should, as far as getting people who are in their custody, to show up for court.

When people are released to the custody of the Immigration Office, Sunia said, the court "expects" Immigration to make sure they appear in court for scheduled hearings.

Sunia made the comment during proceedings for Sione Petelo, who was on the calendar to appear before the Family, Drug and Alcohol (FDA) court yesterday morning.

An Immigration officer who was present, when asked by Sunia, said she did not know where Petelo was. Sunia said that while the court appreciates her honesty, the fact is, Immigration is responsible for people released to their custody.

The case against Petelo is continued to Jan. 28th, at which time Sunia said one of two things could happen: A bench warrant will be issued for Petelo's arrest and a summons will be issued for someone at Immigration to provide answers to the court; or, Petelo will be arrested and the court will still issue an Order to Show Cause (OSC) for Immigration.

"Tell your supervisor that," Sunia said to the Immigration officer.