To date, the Independent Prosecutor Satiu Simativa Perese’s legal fees billed to the Attorney General’s office “are just under SAT$16,000,” according to Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff.
The bill is for prosecuting of the criminal case and the appeal against the former National Prosecution Office (N.P.O.) Director, Mauga Precious Chang.
Last year Mauga was acquitted on charges of negligent driving causing bodily injuries, an alternative charge of dangerous driving and failure to stop to ascertain whether anyone was injured at the scene.
Perese prosecuted the case before the District Court and was also the attorney in the appeal that was heard in the Supreme Court this week.
Lemalu told Samoa Observer “Mr Simativa’s total legal fees charged to date (Wednesday 26 April 2017), including the preparation and hearing for the first case and the appeal hearing just completed, is just under $16,000 tala.
“Compared to other charges this office has respectfully paid to private counsel in the past, this is four times less expensive.
“Mr Perese has offered in my view, an extremely generous hourly rate, and in discussing disclosureof his estimated fees in view of your query, he confirmed that he does not see this as a commercial enterprise to take advantage of, but rather as part his own personal service to Samoa,” said Lemalu.
Samoa Observer also inquired about Perese’s assistant who was seen in court during the appeal hearing this week and Lemalu explained that the assistant was here on a difference case.
“I am informed that his (Perese’s) assistant was in Samoa for another unrelated case, and there are no charges for any services by him.”
Perese who was copied into the questions sent to the Attorney General, also confirmed the comments by the A.G.
“I should note that my assistant was here for another case, which he came to research last week. The time he has spent on the Chang case, both in New Zealand and here in Samoa, including sending you (Samoa Observer) my submissions as you requested, is not being charged to the government, but forms part of his training budget.”
Lemalu made it clear it their office has no say in the prosecution of the said case against the N.P.O.
“The Attorney General’s office, while it has engaged Mr Perese on this rate, has no part in the actual case itself. He has full carriage and decision-making authority over the file as delegated to him.”
Meantime, the ruling on the appeal for the said case will be announced on 28 May 2017.