Lawyers battle it out

By Lanuola Tupufia ,

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COURT HEARING: Caroline Susan Stowers and lawyer Fepuleai Patrick Fepulea’i.

COURT HEARING: Caroline Susan Stowers and lawyer Fepuleai Patrick Fepulea’i.

The young woman caught in the middle of a dispute involving the President of the Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G) and three others, who are accused of attempting to defeat justice, is a double victim of sexual abuse.

That’s what the District Court was told yesterday during the final submissions of the hearing before Judge Vaepule Vaemoa Vaai.

S.V.S.G. President, Siliniu Lina Chang, Elaine Ulia Faiga, Superintendent Sala’a Salale Sala’a and Tumua Luafalealo have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. 

First to make his final submission was Prosecutor, Fepuleai Patrick Fepuleai. The lawyer told the Court that Caroline Susan Stowers, who was taken in as an adopted daughter by Elaine Ulia Faiga and her husband, was the real victim. 

Fepuleai said Ms. Stowers sought refuge with S.V.S.G, who ended up treating her poorly.

 “She has been a victim of sexual assault and that is how the charges against Elaine appeared,” Fepulea’i said. “S.V.S.G’s role in this case is a refuge for victims but when Lina started to converse with Elaine, this amounted to interfering with the course of law.”

Fepuleai wondered who appointed S.V.S.G to perform the role of the Police in calling a meeting to reconcile Susan and her adopted parents, who had apparently mistreated her.

“When Elaine told Lina that she was the victim of this case, Lina called a meeting of reconciliation. Who appointed these people to do the work of the Court? The matter was before the Court.

“The sad thing about this matter is the so-called victim in this case was not protected by the S.V.S.G. They were going against the very thing that they were set up to do which is to protect the victims of sexual assault.

“When Lina accepted the version of Elaine’s story that Terry and Susan had an affair and Susan was the reason that broke up their marriage, (Lina) as a former police officer and somebody who is familiar with victims of sexual abuse, should know that her paramount interest was the protection of Susan.”

Fepulea’i added that if Susan and Elaine’s husband, Terry, had a sexual relationship; it would have made her a victim of two sexual abuse matters. 

 “Susan was a double victim who was subjected to sexual abuse from both Elaine and her husband.”

According to Fepulea’i, there is sufficient evidence that Elaine had coerced Foai, another key witness in the initial complaint made against Elaine, to leave the country before the Court case. 

But lawyer, Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu, representing Siliniu and Mrs. Luafalealo disagreed. She told the Court there was never an intention from her clients to undertake any activity seen to be defeating the cause of justice. 

“The parents (of Susan) were personally motivated to withdraw the complaint because of pressure from the village and church,” said Taulapapa. 

“My friend (Fepuleai) referred to them as simple people living in the village and I agree with him. They were simple people who were fined (by the village of Lano) and approached by a sexual predator to hand over their daughter.”

Taulapapa said it was interesting that Elaine’s husband was never fined by the village for what he had done.

 “There was a common intention from parents that met at the S.V.S.G to have the charges disappeared.”

In her submission, Taulapapa said the case has contaminated everyone and at its heart is the “abuse of power which has affected the status of the church, the status of the Theological College, ordained ministers, senior police officer, an N.G.O, a former faletua and daughter of a family known in Afega.”

The third lawyer to deliver his submission was Papali’i Lio Masipau, representing Sala’a. 

Papali’i said the prosecution’s evidence against his client comes from a witness whose credibility is doubtful. He said there was no direct evidence that Siliniu and Sala’a arranged for Peati to have the case withdrawn from Court. 

Lastly, Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i, Elaine’s lawyer, argued that in order for the matter to be a conspiracy to defeat the cause of justice, it had to be agreed upon. 

She said this is a case where there was no conspirator and there is also the question of who conspired against whom. 

Alalatoa argued that if the Court accepts the prosecution’s case, it would make one of their key witnesses, Foai Galue Malo, an accomplice. 

“The only evidence produced against Elaine is that from Foai,” said Alalatoa. “There is no corroborating evidence that could be relied on safely by the Court to convict and prove the offense without reasonable doubt.”

Judge Vaepule has adjourned the matter until 19 February 2016 for his decision. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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