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Judge Sunia says American Samoa is not a playground for criminal activities

District Court Judge Fiti Sunia

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — District Court Judge Fiti Sunia wants the Immigration Office to inform incoming foreigners that American Samoa has laws, and the territory is not a playground for criminal activities.

Sunia made the remarks during the sentencing of Mui Sua a.k.a. Mui Lilomaiava last Friday in District Court.

Sua pled guilty to driving under the influence and he was sentenced to six months probation under one condition. That is, he must depart the territory and remain outside its borders for the duration of his probation sentence.

The court was informed that Sua's immigration ID expires Monday, Jan. 21 but he has a ticket back to Samoa for Sunday, Jan 20. Sunia then asked an Immigration officer who was in court, about the specifics on how Sua entered the territory. The Immigration officer could not provide a definite answer, saying the case file is handled by her co-worker who was on leave that day.

She also could not confirm the claim by defense attorney, Assistant Public Defender Anna Wells, that Sua was in the middle of getting his immigration issues sorted out.

Sunia said this is "irrelevant" and went on to tell Sua that if he doesn't depart American Samoa by Sunday, he will have to report to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) in Tafuna by 4 p.m., and serve out the remaining 28 days of a 30-day suspended jail term (2 days were credited for time served).

In addition, Sua's sponsor is responsible for paying $170 in fines.

In delivering Sua's sentence, Sunia said, "This is not a place where people can come in and do whatever. There are laws. And people who come here need to know that."

 Sunia said the Immigration Office should make it a point to inform incoming foreigners that entering American Samoa is a 'privilege' and it doesn't necessarily give them permission to do whatever they want.

Referring to Sua's case, Sunia said putting him on probation means he can still come and go — on a permit — and a DUI conviction on his record is not enough to stop him from entering the territory.

He said the court is acquiesced to place Sui on probation, but this does not lessen the seriousness of a conviction.

Samoa News was unable to confirm as of press time yesterday, whether Sua departed the territory this past Sunday, as ordered.