Hearing of charges against Minister adjourned

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia 17 May 2016, 12:00AM

A hearing of more than ten criminal charges against the Minister of Police, Sala Fata Pinati, in connection with the General Election in March, has been adjourned until July. 

The Minister had pleaded not guilty to 17 charges brought by another candidate of Gagaemauga No. 1, Sala Iose McCarthy. 

In the District Court yesterday, the Minister’s lawyer, Ruby Drake asked the Court to adjourn the hearing to give her enough time to inform the witnesses. 

She added that documents served to the complainant were delivered late on Friday and did not allow her enough time to contact her witnesses. 

Leulua’iali’i Tasi Malifa is representing Sala Iose. 

The lawyer did not object to the application to adjourn the hearing, pointing out that it was a misunderstanding. 

District Court Judge, Vaepule Vaemoa Va’ai granted the application. 

He, however, wanted to know how many witnesses the lawyers plan to call.

The Judge noted that the complainant has about 20 witnesses while the defendant will call a few less than that.

“By consent the defendant is remanded on liberty until 11th July to 22nd July for hearing,” said Vaepule. 

He also ordered that the trial documents be served to the Court by Friday.

Tuala Iosefo hearing

On a separate matter, another candidate of the same constituency of Gagaemauga No. 1, Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio appeared in Court yesterday. 

There are nine charges of bribery and treating against Tuala brought by several members of his constituency. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

From the last adjournment, Tuala told the Court he seeks leave to file an application to quash the charges against him. 

But yesterday, Tuala said he could not file the application as he had just returned from overseas and needed more time.

“I tried to but I was not able to do it in time,” said the candidate. 

He asked the Court for an extension of time to file his motion to quash the charges.

However, Mrs. Drake who represents two of the complainants objected. 

She reminded Judge Vaepule that the defendant had made the application in April to quash and objects to the length of time given to the defendant. 

The lawyer requested that the extension of time be given until Wednesday so that she can “have an earlier knowledge of the grounds of the application” before the matter is recalled on Friday. 

Judge Vaepule granted the application of the motion to quash until Wednesday.

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia 17 May 2016, 12:00AM

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