Bail application hearing adjourned to today

One of two men facing a charge of manslaughter over the death of Jeremiah Malaki Tauili’ili has applied to the Supreme Court to be released on bail. 

Herman Westerlund’s application for bail was before Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren yesterday, amidst heavy Police presence in the Courtroom.  

Westerlund and Suapaina Savai’inaea have been jointly charged with manslaughter in connection to the death of Mr. Tauili’ili.

A third person, Robert Ash, faces a charge of assault in relation to a separate incident on the same night.

The bail hearing proceedings was adjourned to today after the Court was told that there was no Police report.

Justice Tafaoimalo then ordered the Attorney General’s Office to present the report in Court this afternoon. 

Lawyer Fepulea’i Patrick Fepulea’i—representing the defendant yesterday—informed the Court that under the Criminal Procedures Act, his client has fulfilled the requirements of section 99 of the law.

He further submitted that his client was not a flight risk, and a departure prohibition order enforced by the Police is already in place. 

Consequently, he submitted, there is no risk of his client interfering with witnesses, he has no previous convictions and will not reoffend while on bail. 

The Court heard that the postmortem on the body of the deceased is yet to be done, with Fepulea’i expressing confidence that the results of the medical procedure will lead to the exoneration of his client.  

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Fepulea’i also tendered to the bench a letter from the family of the deceased, which he said was an undertaking that there will be no retaliation.

“The Sa’o is saying they called the family of the deceased, and the village met with the deceased family and basically confirming that there will be no retaliation,” he submitted.

But the prosecution objected to the application with Leone Su’a of the Attorney General’s Office arguing that manslaughter is a serious charge. 

 “The defendant has only been charged on Friday and was remanded on Saturday,” she responded. 

“It’s less than a week to appear on the mentions, we have not received the police report and investigations are continuing."

“And at this stage, we are unable to provide basis as to support our opposition—as to why the defendant should not be released out on bail—as this matter has not been heard in Court.” 

But Fepulea’i, in response to the prosecution, said there are no provisions in Section 98(4) of the Criminal Procedure Act that states that the defendant has to wait for his mention to make a bail application.

 “There is nothing in section 98(4) (where) we have to wait for mention, the bail was done by the Registrar and only this Court can overturn that, and that’s why we have come to this Court."

“I really fail to see the point and I don’t think there is anything here to prevent us doing it right now, it is really the discretion of the Court,” he said.  

Justice Tafaoimalo then made it clear that there is no issue in relation to when the matter can be heard. 

However, the lack of a police report is a predicament, the judge said, and ordered that the Attorney General’s Office furnish a copy of the police report in Court today.

“You get the file, I don’t know how you’ll get it, and submit your response by 12:30 and we will hear this tomorrow afternoon (today) at 2pm.”  

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