Separate cases against two Samoa Commissioners are both postponed

Apia, SAMOA — The separate criminal matters involving Samoa’s suspended Police Commissioner, Fuiavailili Egon Keil and suspended Director of the National Prosecution Office, Mauga Precious Chang have both been postponed. In the meantime, Mauga has entered a plea of not guilty to the two traffic offenses filed against her by the police. During her status hearing before District Court Judge Vaepule Vaemoa Vaai,  defense counsel Tuatagaloa Ming Leung Wai entered the defendant’s plea.

Vera asked if the two traffic offenses are the final charges against the NPO Director, and Taulapapa Heather Brenda-Latu responded yes. However  Simativa Perese an attorney hired by the Attorney General’s Office as Independent Prosecutor (IP) said the charges have yet to be finalized. Taulapapa was contracted by the National Prosecution Office (where the defendant is the Director) to prosecute this matter.

Samoa News notes that both attorneys are arguing before the court as to who will prosecute in the matter against Mauga.

The District Court Judge then pointed out to the attorneys that the charges should be finalized by October 14, 2016 not later than that. During the initial appearance of Mauga, one of the prosecutor’s, Taulapapa, informed the court that an application has been filed in the Supreme Court as she is the prosecutor in this case. She further presented a letter from Acting Police Commissioner, Afamasaga Michael So’onalole to the Court, as evidence that the police did not seek assistance from the Attorney General to involve themselves in this process by hiring an independent prosecutor.

In the meantime, during the hearing before Supreme Court Justice Lesa Rapi Vaai as to the application of an attorney to prosecute this matter, the hearing was postponed after submissions were submitted and a hearing was scheduled for November 28, 29 2016. This delay will allow the court time to issue a ruling of declaration as to who will prosecute the case against the suspended NPO Director.

Regarding the case against the suspended Police Commissioner, the status hearing on the motion to quash by defense counsel Komisi Koria has also been postponed. Two weeks ago Fuiavailiili, moved to quash the charges against him noting the lack of sufficient evidence by the National Prosecution Office (NPO) and prosecution’s failure to submit information in particular to the criminal charges against the defense, this was the submission by Koria.

The charges against the Commissioner include providing a false report, perjury, unlawful detaining and misconduct in a public place — all in connection with the arrest of a former police officer Suitupe Misa, at the Fugalei market last year, where officers were armed while making the arrest on instructions by the Commissioner. During the status hearing before Supreme Court Justice Lesa Rapi Vaai, he noted that he could not proceed with the matter as he needs to look at the documents submitted on the motion to quash the charges against the Commissioner.

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