Independent lawyer sought by N.P.O.

By Lanuola Tupufia – Ah Tong ,

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Fuiavailiili Egon Keil.

Fuiavailiili Egon Keil. (Photo: File)

The hearing of a motion to quash charges against the suspended Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, has been adjourned for the last time.

The decision was made in the Supreme Court yesterday by Justice Lesatele Rapi Va’ai.

It follows an application from the National Prosecution Office (N.P.O) lawyer, Leone Sua-Mailo for a further adjournment. 

Mrs. Mailo told the Court the N.P.O. is in the process of engaging an independent prosecutor to handle the matter. She did not say who the independent prosecutor would be but she indicated it would be a lawyer from overseas. 

Representing Fuiavailiili are lawyers Komisi Koria and Leinafo Taimalelagi. 

Mr. Koria strongly opposed to the application for another adjournment.

He said the matter has been on the list for two months now and that is way too long. 

The lawyer also reminded that when the matter was called on Monday this week, the prosecutor did not raise any such issue.

“In our respectful submission, it would be unfair to force my client and some of his family that travelled from Savai’i to attend the hearing to further wait for the matter,” Mr. Koria said.

“This matter was mentioned on 29th August for the hearing of our application and I cannot see why the counsel for the prosecution would not be prepared to proceed this morning. I urge the Court to proceed with the matter today.”

In response, Mrs. Mailo said she had not raised the issue on Monday because “circumstances have changed”.

She insisted it is their view that the matter be further adjourned for the prosecution to engage an overseas independent prosecutor to counter the application to quash the charges. 

The lawyers were then called into chambers by Justice Lesatele before he adjourned the matter until 11November 2016.

“I have read both submissions and I was prepared to make several rulings in favour of the applicant in this matter,” said the Judge. 

Fuiavailili is facing charges including unlawful detainment of a person, disorderly conduct in a public place, perjury and making a false statement in relation to the wrongful arrest of a member of the public last year. 

His legal team is seeking to quash the charges against their client, questioning the legitimacy of the charges. 

Mr. Koria argued the prosecution does not understand the nature of the allegations against his client and the charges therefore should be dropped.

In a civil case, the Police Commissioner is defended by the Attorney General’s office following in lawsuit from member of the public Suitupe Misa for his unlawful arrest in August last year. 

Lawyer Seuamuli Sarona Ponifasio representing Mr. Misa questioned the conflicting role of the Attorney General’s office with the latest development of the A.G. Lemalu Hermann Reztlaff heading N.P.O.

Lemalu was given the powers as Acting Director for N.P.O. following the suspension of N.P.O. Director Mauga Precious Chang and Acting Director Muriel Lui. 

Seuamuli raised the conflicting role of the A.G. in the Supreme Court last week pointing out that the A.G. is defending the Commission in the civil matter yet prosecuting him in the criminal Court. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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