Lawyer discredits Court’s decision as appeal begins

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu 25 April 2017, 12:00AM

Judge Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma’s decision to acquit the former Director of the National Prosecution Office (N.P.O), Mauga Precious Chang, of traffic related charges, was “plainly wrong.”

It cannot be sustained and supported on any basis whatsoever.

That was the gist of the argument from an overseas-based independent prosecutor, hired by the Attorney General’s Office, Satiu Simative Perese, to handle the appeal before the Supreme Court.

“The lower Court’s decision was not open on the evidence, and, it was plainly wrong,” he said. 

“The crash did not happen as the Court below held, but rather the respondent was negligent in turning the Tuscon in an unsafe manner in front of an oncoming bus which had the right of way.

“The lower Court’s decision cannot be supported on any proper basis, and at times the decision was unprincipled.”

Satiu submitted the argument before Supreme Court Justice Mata Tuatagaloa yesterday. The day in Court saw a legal battle between Satiu and New Zealand based Attorney, Aaron Perkins and former Attorney General, Aumua Ming Leung Wai, who are representing Mauga. 

Satiu pointed out that the trial Judge erred in law and/or in fact in deciding to acquit Mauga. 

According to Satiu, the Judge misunderstood the evidence and also erred in his understanding and treatment of the evidence and the inferences.

Among other issues, Satiu said the Court needs to consider fresh evidence such as diagrammes and illustrations of the incident. 

He noted that using diagrammes or illustrations is a well-accepted practice in the presentation of submissions, particularly helpful in understanding matters requiring the use of spatial awareness. 

But Defense Counsel Perkins appealed to the Supreme Court about the need to consider laws of hearing applications on fresh evidence. 

Justice Tuatagaloa asked Satiu why the issue of diagrammes and illustrations was raised during the trial and why didn’t he seek for an expert to give evidence in support of the diagrammes and illustrations of the crash site.

Last year, the District Court Judge found Mauga not guilty of three traffic-related charges.

The charges include negligent driving causing bodily injuries, an alternative charge of dangerous driving and failure to stop to ascertain whether anyone was injured at the scene.

In his decision, Judge Fepuleai said after considering the evidence carefully, he had reached the decision that the prosecution failed to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt. 

The charges against Mauga was the result of a traffic incident involving three cars on Beach Road, Apia, in front of Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi building.

Justice Tuatagaloa is scheduled to deliver her decision on the appeal next month.

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu 25 April 2017, 12:00AM

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