Nothing on probe into allegations against gov’s chief of staff

Immigration board member says they haven’t even heard the case
ausage@samoanews.com

While there are a lot of questions about the status of an investigation into allegations of wrongdoings against the governor’s Chief of Staff Fiu Johnny Saelua, Private Attorney David Vargas, who is the court appointed Independent Prosecutor for the case, has continued to refuse to comment on its status.

Further, the case has taken on a surprising twist, as Samoa News, through a letter circulated to the media by Victims Advocate Mrs. Ipu Lefiti, learnt that the victims were informed two weeks ago that that the Immigration Board has decided they would be returned to Upolu — since there is “NO CASE”. (See Samoa News LTE section, Oct. 18, 2017)

However, according to a member of the Immigration Board, contacted by Samoa News, no such decision was ever issued — they haven’t even heard the case to date.

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When contacted by Samoa News via-telephone last week, re the Victims Advocate Lefiti’s letter expressing concern about the delay in the Fiu case, Vargas abruptly told Samoa News, “Sorry I cannot comment on that case, and I don’t have a comment, so please, don’t call me again, alright.”

The IP also refused to answer Samoa News’ question if he has ever contacted the victim for an interview regarding this case, which was pointed out in the Victims Advocate’s letter.

Lefiti, in her letter, wrote that it’s been three months since an Independent Prosecutor was appointed to handle the case, but it seems nothing has been done. In addition, she wrote that the victims were never summoned to be officially informed or receive official documents notifying them of their legal and immigration status, and this includes their attorney as well as the court.

The Victims Advocate also indicated there was a Stop Order in affect, issued by the Attorney General’s Office to stop the victims from departing the territory, until their case is completed.

An attorney from the AG’s Office, on the condition of anonymity, confirmed to Samoa News that the Stop Order for the victims is still in place as far as he knows.

When asked if the AG’s office ever tried to remove the Stop Order so that the victims could depart the territory, the attorney said no. “Unless the AG’s office removes the Stop Order, it will still be valid until further notice,” the attorney said.

When asked for a comment, Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale said that because the case is out of his hands, he does not have any updates on the case.

Samoa News also asked an Immigration Board member about the case and was told, “We haven’t discussed that case yet. Our board is still waiting for the case to be brought forward to our attention for discussion.

“If the couple has ever had an Immigration Identification (I.D) before, then they have the right to a deportation hearing in front of the board.

“The law is clear, an alien[s] is entitled to a deportation hearing.

“The board has to hear why an alien is subject to deportation,” the board member said.

The board member further confirmed that they never informed the Immigration Office about any decision they made, nor have they ever suggested that there was “no case” for the couple.

The allegations of sexual misconduct first came to light last year when a case was filed against Fiu by one of his family members. The case also alleges that members of the Immigration office were dispatched and under false pretenses attempted to send the woman and her husband to Samoa on the same day they were rounded up — on the Lady Naomi. An immigration officer processing passengers that day, however, allegedly turned the couple away for lack of travel documents, deportation papers or tickets.

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