Election candidate appeals bribery conviction

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio.

Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

Miscarriage of justice is among the grounds that election candidate Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio is relying on to get the Supreme Court to overturn his bribery conviction.

The election candidate was found guilty of bribery by the District Court last year with then presiding Judge Talasa Atoa-Sa’aga finding him guilty of six charges and dismissing one charge of bribery in information.

The matter was heard before Supreme Court Justice, Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren. 

The charges against Tuala were based on the testimonies of constituency’s voters: Fa’atauuu Malautea, Felagolagomai Tino, Ituao Enele, Taulamago Simone, Tevaga Samilolo and Va Vea. 

They were represented by lawyer Ruby Drake. 

But Tuala, who was represented by counsel Mauga Precious Chang in his appeal, recently argued through his lawyer that his conviction breached his constitutional rights to a fair trail, due to procedural unfairness in the conduct of the trial and the admission of evidence. 

Mauga, in a submission to the court, argued that her client’s conviction was a miscarriage of justice. 

“If having considered all of the evidence, the Court could not reasonably have been satisfied to the requirement standard that the Appellant was guilty. 

“The sentence imposed is against the law; there was a miscarriage of Justice in that the appeal did not have effective representation at the crucial stage of his trial as there was failure by trial counsel to adequately out the defense case. 

“There was a breach of the appellant’s constitutional right to a fair trial due to procedural unfairness in the conduct of the trial and or admittance of evidence,” she said.   

One charge of bribery in information was dropped, indicating that the charge was unsatisfactory. But the court found Tuala guilty of six other charges.

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