The Acting Director of the National Prosecution Office, Muriel Lui, has become the latest government lawyer in Samoa to be suspended.
Her suspension means the prosecutorial duties previously with N.P.O. have been assumed by the Office of the Attorney General immediately.
Attorney General, Lemalu Herman Retzlaff, was reluctant to discuss the matter yesterday.
“We have been informed that Cabinet will issue a release,” said Lemalu.
“When it comes to the court cases, I’m reluctant to say anything because some of the information regarding the prosecution is before the Court.”
Later yesterday afternoon, the Office of the Press Secretariat issued a statement from Cabinet confirming the suspension.
“The suspension of Acting Director of N.P.O, Ms Muriel Lui, is pursuant to sections 11(4), 11 (7) and 11(8) of the NPO Act 2015 and the appointment of the Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff, as Acting Director of the National Prosecution Office is pursuant to Article 41A of the Constitution.
“Cabinet has 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.
“The Attorney General has assumed the role of Acting Director of the National Prosecution Office as of 6th October 2016.”
Asked whether the decision from the Cabinet was based on a recommendation from his Office, Lemalu declined to comment.
Ms. Lui took charge of the National Prosecution Office when the Director of Public Prosecution, Mauga was suspended in August.
Attempts to contact Ms. Lui for a comment were unsuccessful.
A senior lawyer at the National Prosecution Office, Leone Su’a-Mailo said she could not talk to the media.
“I think the best person to call is Lemalu,” she said.