HIGH TALKING CHIEF SENTENCED TO JAIL IN AMERICAN SAMOA

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (September 29, 1997 - Samoa News)---A traditional American Samoa high talking chief has been sentenced to 20 months in jail for twice striking a man on the head with a golf club while enforcing a village curfew.

The High Court of American Samoa handed down the jail term earlier this week against High Talking Chief Faimalo Muao, who is also the chief building inspector for the American Samoa government.

In announcing the sentence, Chief Justice Michael Kruse noted the support of the village for Faimalo, and the testimony that "the victim is an objectionable individual in the village.

"But an objectionable individual, like everybody else, is entitled to the protection of the law," Kruse said.

"It is not the court's intention to discourage village curfews, because they play a very important role in our community," the Chief Justice pointed out. "But it is our duty to emphatically reject any suggestion that any member of the village is authorized to break the law."

After the high talking chief serves 180 consecutive days of jail time, the court may then consider placing him on a work release program.

The territorial government has not indicated if Faimalo will receive pay while in jail.

According to court documents, the incident happened last May and the victim had to be taken to California for jaw surgery. It had been crushed when hit with a golf club by Faimalo.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to >samoanews@samoatelco.com

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