A Cabinet appointed Tribunal to investigate the suspended Director of the National Prosecution Office, Mauga Precious Chang, and her associate, Muriel Lui, starts on Monday.
This was confirmed in a statement issued by the Manager, Community Relations Services of Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Yonita Tuia, yesterday.
“The National Prosecution Office Act Tribunal established under the Cabinet Directive FK (16)37 will hold its first public hearing on Monday 20 February 2017 at 10 am, at the Office of the Legislative Assembly, Tuanaimato,” the statement said.
“The Tribunal consists of Sir Robert Grant Hammond, as Chairperson, Tuiloma Neroni Slade and Alalatoa Rosella Viane Papalii as members.”
At the beginning of the year, the Tribunal was scheduled to start on 20 January 2017. This was confirmed by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi at the time.
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, 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.”