The suspended Police Commissioner, Fuiavailili Egon Keil, will plead not guilty to fresh charges filed against him by the Ministry of Police.
That was the indication from his lawyer, Lei’ataualesa Komisi Koria, when the matter was brought before Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu, yesterday.
“We will be entering a not guilty plea to all these charges,” Lei’ataualesa said.
“These proceedings come at a great cost of the public, great expense in terms of government resources as well as the time of this honorable Court. We feel that the charges against my client are baseless and without merit.”
But what the charges are exactly remains a mystery.
In fact, Lucy Sio, who appeared on behalf of the National Prosecution Office (N.P.O) asked for a two-week adjournment so that the charges could be finalised.
There are conflicting reports about the number of charges – with one saying the Commissioner is facing more than 200 charges.
Lei’ataualesa yesterday sought an order from the Court for Police to provide trial documents for all the charges.
“To date, we’ve received not one copy of the charges file progressively since the 14th November 2016,” said Leiataua.
The lawyer not asked for trial documents in relation to the charges but sought that they be provided by the end of the week.
He added that believes one charge is about an alleged one offence, which happened a long time ago, and since they brought the new charges, they are adding charges as they go.
“It is the interest of my client, his Constitutional rights for adequate facilities to be provided for him to prepare his defense.”
Leiataualesa’s application sought permission from the Court for his client to access certain information within the Ministry of Police, and access police witnesses who have knowledge of the facts about the proceedings.
“We urgently need this for our trial to be relevant,” he said.
Ms. Sio opposed the applications. She insisted her Office needs time to file a response to Leiataua’s applications.
In response, Chief Justice Patu ordered the prosecution to file and serve all the charges and copies of the trial documents to the defense by Friday this week at 12noon.
In relation to the application for access to information and witnesses, the prosecution has been given until 5 December at 2pm to file a response. The actual hearing, however, has been adjourned until 12 December 2016.
Outside Court, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, Papali’i John Taimalelagi, confirmed earlier reports that the Commissioner is facing 271 charges.
Papali’i said the number of charges against Fuiava includes counseling and procuring to murder, possession of unlawful firearm, being armed with a dangerous weapons, insulting words and threatening words.