Associate Minister found not guilty

By Lanuola Tupufia – Ah Tong ,

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KEY MEMBERS: The dispute involves two senior H.R.P.P members, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga and Laauli Leuatea Polata'ivao.

KEY MEMBERS: The dispute involves two senior H.R.P.P members, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga and Laauli Leuatea Polata'ivao. (Photo: File)

The Associate Minister of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga, is a relieved man.

He walked away a free man yesterday after he was found not guilty of charges of fraud and forgery filed against him. 

Supreme Court Judge, Justice Mata Tuatagaloa said the prosecutor failed to prove the charges against the M.P. for Fa’asaleleaga No. 4 beyond reasonable doubt. 

“All charges against the defendant are dismissed,” Justice Tuatagaloa said in her brief decision. 

Outside Court, Peseta and his lawyer Leulua’iali’i Olinda Woodroffe were elated.

Peseta was charged in relation to a complaint filed by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polata’ivao, Apulu Lance Polu and Martin Jonathan Schwalger. 

The complainants are shareholders of a company called Local Partners and Associate Limited. Peseta’s son, Lei’ataua Danny, was also a shareholder of the company. 

The complainants claimed Peseta had forged the signature of Mr. Schwalger in order to transfer shares from his son, Lei’ataua, to his name.

Leulua’iali’i told the Weekend Observer that the decision means “justice has been done. “

ALL FOR ONE: Associate Minister of the Ministry of the Prime Minister, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga (4th from left) had the support of his family at Court yesterday.
ALL FOR ONE: Associate Minister of the Ministry of the Prime Minister, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga (4th from left) had the support of his family at Court yesterday.

But this is not the end of the matter. The lawyer and her client have vowed to take the complainants in the matter back to Court. 

“The civil claim has already been filed (against them),” said Leulua’iali’i. 

“But let’s take one step at a time. The purpose is not to just fight, it is to seek justice and truth for what has happened.”

Peseta told the media he was thankful. The M.P. pointed out the matter has stained his good name and it has been a costly process. 

“I thank the Judge for the decision and my lawyer as well as those that supported me,” he said. 

“I have a lot of things I want to talk about because this has damaged my reputation, affected my family and the constituency that I serve as the Member of Parliament." 

“Which means a civil claim will be brought in Court against those involved.”

The people involved that Peseta is referring to are the complainants – including senior fellow H.R.P.P member, La’auli. 

The Associate Minister added although the process of clearing his name has been costly he will pursue with the civil claim against the complainants to reveal the truth.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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