Date set for Tribunal

By Sarafina Sanerivi ,

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SUSPENDED: Director of the National Prosecution Office, Mauga Precious Chang, and her associate, Muriel Lui.

SUSPENDED: Director of the National Prosecution Office, Mauga Precious Chang, and her associate, Muriel Lui.

A Cabinet appointed Tribunal to investigate the suspended Director of the National Prosecution Office, Mauga Precious Chang, and her associate, Muriel Lui, is scheduled to start on 20 January 2017.

This was confirmed by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi during his weekly media meeting.

Contrary to reports that the Tribunal had been delayed, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said this was not the case.

“No it wasn’t delayed,” he said. “It was just finding the time when they are available.”

Ordered by Cabinet last year, members of the Tribunal include Justice Grant Hammond, Tuiloma Neroni Slade and a representative of the Samoa Law Society.

The Tribunal is answerable to Prime Minister Tuilaepa.

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 also 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. is brought back under the Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff, where it remains today.

 “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,” a statement from Cabinet said.   

“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 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 N.P.O Act 2015.”  

Last week, 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 for the Tribunal.

 “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.”

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