Samoa Tribunal Probe Into Suspended Prosecution Office Director Yet To Start

Government's top two lawyers are suspended with full pay, benefits

By Lanuola Tupufia – Ah Tong

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 11, 2017) – A Cabinet appointed Tribunal to investigate the suspended Director of the National Prosecution Office, Mauga Precious Chang, and her associate, Muriel Lui, has yet to start. 

It means two of the government’s top lawyers remain suspended receiving full benefits until the Tribunal begins.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo, told the Samoa Observer the relevant preparations are underway.

 “Apropos the commencement date for C.O.I into Precious Chang’s suspension, the date is not yet confirmed but relevant preparations have started,” Agafili said.

“These include the composition, venue and other logistical arrangements.”

Another email to Agafili asking to elaborate was not responded to at press time.

He also did not respond to questions about when a separate Inquiry into the suspended Assistant Commissioner of Police, Samoa Mulinuu Samoa, would begin. 

Mauga was suspended by Cabinet last August following a Police investigation and review by an independent prosecutor of charges filed against her. 

Her suspension was for an initial period of three months while her case underwent standard judicial process. 

The charges against her have since been dismissed.

But the decision is being appealed.

In her absence, Acting Director, Muriel Lui assumed the responsibilities and duties of the Director of the National Prosecution Office. 

However, in October last year, Ms. Lui was suspended by Cabinet. The suspension of the Acting Director was in pursuant to sections 11(4), 11 (7) and 11(8) of the NPO Act 2015. 

At the time, the N.P.O was brought back under the Attorney General, Lemalu Herman Retzlaff.

At the time, Cabinet had “also resolved to appoint a Tribunal to evaluate the performance of Ms. Lui and the suspended Director of N.P.O, Mauga Precious Chang.” 

According to the statement, “Cabinet has noted the continued refusal of the suspended Acting Director of N.P.O and suspended Director of N.P.O to properly perform powers and duties to uphold the rule of law and objectivity of the criminal justice system."   

“Cabinet acknowledges that the actions of Ms. Lui and Ms. Chang have created unnecessary conflicts between government departments while diminishing public confidence in law enforcement processes and the justice system in Samoa.”

 “Furthermore, the validity of the establishment of the National Prosecution Office will also be reviewed to ensure the Statutory responsibilities and powers are treated with greater transparency, accountability and respect.”

The statement continues: “The Tribunal will be appointed on the grounds that Ms. Chang and Ms. Lui have not used the Statutory powers given to them in an appropriate manner and they have breached Civil Service Values and Code of Conduct under the Public Service Act 2004, as applied to them under section 15 of the NPO Act 2015." 

 “Members of the Tribunal will include Justice Grant Hammond, former Justice of the High Court of Samoa; Tuiloma Neroni Slade, former Attorney General of Samoa; and the President of the Samoa Law Society or an appointed representative of the society.  Their report will be provided to the Minister responsible for the N.P.O, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.” 

Samoa Observer
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