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David Vargas confirms his appointment as Indie Prosecutor

Local attorney David Vargas has confirmed that he has been appointed by the High Court as Independent Prosecutor (IP), but declined to reveal details.

The IP appointment came to light last month during a Samoa News interview with Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale, who said that his office has received the police reports on the matters pertaining to the Speaker of the House and the Governor’s Chief of Staff.

Victim’s advocate Ipu Lefiti, in a Letter to the Editor, published in the Aug. 1st Samoa News edition said Vargas was appointed IP as of July 28.

During an interview this past Wednesday, Vargas declined to give specific details of the cases assigned to him by the court to investigate and prosecute.

He said he can only confirm that he has been appointed as IP to investigate cases assigned to him by the court. He added that there is a lot of work ahead for him, and this includes interviewing all witnesses and compiling their testimonies for cases assigned to him. Additionally, he plans to meet with the Police Commission sometime this week for further information on the assigned cases.

One of the cases that Samoa News asked about during the interview with Talauega is the one linked to House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale’s name for a vehicle brought into the territory more than a month ago, but held by Customs, who allegedly found drugs in the car.

The vehicle was allegedly shipped to the House Speaker, who told Samoa News in late June that the vehicle belonged to his son-in-law and that he has already given a statement to police.

The other case alleges wrongdoing by the Governor’s Chief of Staff, Fiu J. Saelua, following a complaint filed last December with the Department of Public Safety. Fiu is alleged to have misused his authority as a government official to try to deport a woman and her husband back to Samoa without due process.

Talauega explained to Samoa News at the time that all such cases in which allegations are made against ranking government officials, go through the process involving the selection of an Independent Prosecutor (IP) and this process has been activated.

As previously reported by Samoa News, the process the AG is speaking about involves the Attorney General submitting an application to the Appointing Division of the High Court for an Independent Prosecutor if there is a possible conflict of interest in the AG’s Office prosecuting a particular case. (See Samoa News July 3rd edition for details.)