Samoa Court Dismisses Some Charges In Satapuala Case

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Four defendants previously charged over weapons, ‘insults’

By Lanuola Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, May 13, 2013) – Four defendants in the ongoing Satapuala road block trial have had charges against them dismissed by the District Court in Samoa.

Three of them, Sunny Ili, Pa’u Tavita and Lesi Samoa, had charges of being armed with dangerous weapons dismissed yesterday. The only woman defendant, Toese Punavai, had one charge of insulting words dismissed.

The quartet, however, remain charged with unlawful assembly, along with fellow villagers and their Member of Parliament, Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster.

Judge Vaepule Vaemoa Vaai is presiding over the trial.

The 18 defendants are represented by lawyers Tuala Karanita Enari and Papali’i Li’o Masipau.

Lawyer Leinafo Taimalelagi of the Attorney General’s office is prosecuting.

In his submission, defense lawyer Papali’i said there was no evidence to support the charges against the defendants. He pointed out that one of the witnesses, Tivoi Lipaga in his evidence said "he saw an albino with a gun, but I wasn’t sure if he was going to shoot some pigs or chickens."

The "albino" he referred to was Sunny Ili.

"Sunny is charged with [being] armed with an axe, but the witness clearly pointed that he saw Sunny with a firearm," said Papali’i. "My submission is there is no case and there is no evidence."

Ms. Taimalelagi agreed. She said there was no evidence to prove the charges.

As a result, Judge Vaepule moved to dismiss the charges.

Papali’i also argued that seven charges of resisting police and uttering insulting words against Member of Parliament Toesulusulu was a "no case."

He told the Court the names of the policemen who claimed that the MP resisted them have yet to be identified.

But Ms. Taimalelagi disagreed. She objected saying the alleged actions of the MP and words were directed to a "body of constables" and not to one particular officer.

"Evidence shows that certain defendants tried to oppose and it was whoever was on the way," she said.

However, Judge Vaepule made it clear that the charges needed to be clear as to who the policemen were that the MP resisted, not a body of policemen.

He explained that just like the charge of assault "you cannot charge a body."

Lastly, Ms. Taimalelagi said there was sufficient evidence to suggest that the MP was part of an unlawful assembly.

"There was clear common purpose to blocking the road to cause disturbance to neighborhood," she said.

The MP is among 18 villagers of Satapuala charged in connection with a roadblock skirmish between the village and police last year.

The accused villagers are charged with unlawful assembly, uttering insulting words, resisting the Police, and in breach of the peace.

The hearing continues.

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