Samoan Minister Cleared Of Charge In Fatal Car Accident

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Police apparently could not round up witnesses, drop case

By Pai Mulitalo ‘Ale

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, August 27, 2013) – In Samoa, the Associate Minister of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga is a free man.

Yesterday, the District Court dismissed a charge of negligent driving causing death against the Fa’asaleleaga No. 4 MP in relation to an incident at Leauva’a in 2011.

Outside Court, Peseta said he was extremely pleased with the decision. He said he knew from the beginning he was innocent and yesterday’s decision was confirmation of that.

The Associate Minister said he was aware that he could have lost his seat as a result of a conviction.

"According to the rules and regulations of being a Member of Parliament, when you are convicted in Court, you cannot continue on as a Member of Parliament," he said.

"I was ready for whatever decision from his honour."

Thankfully, he said the decision swayed in his favour.

In Court, the Police withdrew the charge.

Prosecutor Khamthan Stanley told Judge Vaepule Vaemoa Vaai that some of their key witnesses were unable to attend the hearing.

Defence lawyer Tole’afoa Solomona Toa’iloa filed an application for the charge to be dismissed.

The application was granted. Further, Tole’afoa asked the court to give him two weeks to submit an application for court costs since one of his key witnesses has had to travel to Samoa from Australia for the hearing.

Judge Vaepule also granted the application and adjourned the matter to 9 September 2013.

The incident over which the Associate Minister was charged took place at Leauva’a in August 2011.

The man involved, Falaniko Faaea, 49, died in March 2012.

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