A man who withdrew his candidacy in the recent General Election was yesterday convicted and fined $700 for making a false declaration.
Taula Faulaau Simi pleaded guilty to the charge of making a false declaration brought by the Office of the Electoral Commissioner prior to the 2016 Election.
Acting Electoral Commissioner and lawyer, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio, is representing the Office in Court.
He told the Court that the father of four children is charged for not declaring that he did have previous conviction when he submitted his candidate nomination form for Aleipata Itupa I Luga.
Faimalo said Taula’s declaration that he did not have a previous conviction was false. It was later found that the defendant was involved in previous matters before the Court which led to him being convicted and fined.
The businessman later withdrew his candidacy.
District Court Judge, Vaepule Vaemoa Va’ai presided.
Asked if he had anything to say, Taula said he told the lawyer that he wasn’t jailed but had a previous conviction.
“I wasn’t asked about what I was convicted of,” he said.
“I had no intention of running in the General Election but closer to the election, there was an eligibility challenge filed by our M.P against a doctor who was running so I rushed my decision and decided to run.”
Taula did not name which doctor he was referring to.
“Days after, I went to the Electoral Commissioner to withdraw my nomination,” he added.
“I never thought it would come to this because I didn’t contest the General Election.”
But Judge Vaepule reminded the father that the charge had nothing to do with him running in the General Election or not.
“It’s the fact that you made a false declaration and you swore in your oath,” said Judge Vaepule.
“The charge questions your honesty…you are convicted and your guilty plea and your actions to withdraw your nomination is used as mitigating factors.
“You are ordered to pay $700 and failure to do so will result in 3 months in jail.”
Taula is the second candidate that has been convicted and fined for false declaration in relation to the recent general election.