Man from Vanuatu charged with assaulting his girlfriend in Fagatogo
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The District Court will hear today from Immigration, the status of a man charged with private peace disturbance and third degree assault (domestic violence).
James Aru, a citizen of Vanuatu, made his initial appearance in District Court yesterday morning where he entered 'not guilty' pleas to the charges against him.
The government alleges that this past Monday, Feb. 18, nearing midnight, the 36-year-old victim walked into the DPS central station to report that the defendant assaulted her at their rental unit in Fagatogo.
The criminal complaint notes that Aru, 47, and the victim live together as a married couple.
According to the victim's statement to police, she had been drinking with some guys from Fagatogo and another male from Hawai’i prior to the alleged altercation with Aru.
She said she did not know that the defendant had come home, and when she entered their rental unit, Aru was in their room. She claims that they got into an argument, and that's when Aru started punching her face. She said she tried to protect herself, but Aru allegedly continued to beat her with his hands.
According to her, this isn't the first time Aru has assaulted her, and she has bruises on her arms which she claims are from a previous beating.
The woman was treated by EMS personnel at the DPS central station and later transported to the LBJ Medical Center for further treatment. According to information received by Samoa News, the woman sustained a severe hematoma (5cm laceration under her right eye), deformity on one of her fingers (dislocated finger bone), and mild bruises on her left chest area and right forearm.
Cops were able to pick Aru up from the rental unit and transport him to the police station for questioning. Investigators claim that enroute to the police station, they could detect a strong odor of alcohol emitting from the defendant.
During questioning, Aru denied assaulting the victim.
Yesterday in court, the Immigration officer who was present had requested more time to locate Aru's file. Judge Patea is giving the government until today to confirm whether Aru is here legally, or illegally. Until his immigration status is confirmed, Aru is remanded to custody at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) without bail.