Church Ministers in Court
Nine Church Ministers from the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa made their first appearance in the District Court yesterday.
The hearing of the matter between the Ministry of Revenue and the Church Ministers was presided over by Judge Talasa Lumepa Atoa Sa'aga.
The Court house was packed with Church Ministers, families and friends who turned up to offer the accused moral support.
The Church Ministers charged are: Reverends Amosa Reupena, Enefatu Lesa, Fa’asalafa Vitaoa, Ioane Petaia, Lavilavi Soloi, Petaia Leavai, Poasa Toiaivao and Semikueva Fa’atoafa.
Each one of them is facing two counts of failure to withhold tax and failure to file wage tax returns.
During the Court proceeding, the Church Ministers were represented by lawyer, Alex Su’a, who asked the Court for an adjournment in order to go through the matter.
The lawyer representing the Ministry of Revenue, Alesana Tumua, did not oppose the application.
Su’a informed the Court that he has received instructions from his clients to file an application for the hearing to be adjourned, in order for him to receive full instructions.
“Our application, as this is the first mention and that I have recently been instructed, we are seeking a further adjournment to obtain full instructions,” he said.
Su’a also asked the Court to waive the bail condition for his clients to surrender their travel documents.
“And I also refer to the charges—which are not serious charges—the penalty is 10 units and I also discussed it with my lawyer friend—and he does not have any objection and we will advise the Court if there are any travels,” he added.
Mr. Tumua, in response, confirmed the application and advised that the Ministry did not have any objections to the motion.
Outside the Court house, the church’s General Secretary Reverend Vavatau Taufao thanked the reverends, families and church members for showing support by turning up at the Court house.
He then advised of the Court’s decision to adjourn the proceeding and that the church ministers will appear next Tuesday in the second matter.
The announcement was met with applause from everyone present.