$1million Police lawsuit adjourned

By Pai Mulitalo Ale 19 November 2016, 12:00AM

A $1million lawsuit against the, Minister of Police, Sala Fata Pinati, suspended Commissioner of Police, Fuiavailili Egon Keil and the Ministry of Police has been adjourned until 16 December 2016. 

The decision was made by Justice Vui Clarence Nelson in the Supreme Court yesterday.

Lawyer Tafailagi Peniamina, who appeared on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General, made an application for the matter to be adjourned for a month.

She told the Court the adjournment is to allow them to obtain full instructions from the defendant and to file a statement of defense.

Given that the criminal charges against the Police Commissioner in relation to the same incident had been withdrawn and dismissed last week, the lawyer said they need time to prepare their response.

Ms. Peniamina also asked the Court to withdraw their motion of stay on proceedings as well as the motion of further particulars application filed by the respondents. 

Counsel for the plaintiff, Seuamuli Sarona Ponifasio, did not object to the application by defense. 

The matter was last heard on the 2 November 2016.

At that time, Justice Vui made an order for the respondents to file their statement of defense and was set down for hearing yesterday. 

Seuamuli also asked the Court to reconsider their motion of discoveries.

But Justice Vui said to leave it until they get the statement of defense from the Office of the Attorney General.

 The lawsuit against the Police is being brought by a member of the public who was arrested at gunpoint at the Fugalei market last year.

Suitupe Misa’s lawsuit targets as first defendant, the Minister of Police, Sala Fata Pinati, second defendant the Commissioner of Police, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil and the Ministry of Police as the third defendant. 

Mr. Misa is suing the Minister of Police for a breach of statutory duty. 

In the statement of claim, the plaintiff argues that the first defendant breached his duty under section 13 (3) of the Police Powers Act. 

In particular, Sala is accused of failing to consider any exceptional circumstances to establish whether or not a police officer(s) ought to be armed when the police arrested the plaintiff. 

The second cause of action against the Commissioner is an alleged abuse of process. 

 “The second defendant received information from the first defendant that a person by the name of Suitupe apparently made threats to kill the first and second defendants, and other senior government officials (alleged threat),” says the statement of claim.

 “The first defendant had also informed the second defendant of a witness who may verify the alleged threat. The second defendant however failed to verify the reliability of the alleged threat through direct enquiry with the witness referred to. 

 “The second defendant could have easily found out the truth regarding the alleged threat if he had made reasonable enquiries with the witness. 

The second defendant used and relied on the apparent validity of the Minister’s approval by ordering certain police officers including Officer Iosefa to be armed and to arrest the plaintiff upon confirmation of the plaintiff’s presence at the market.”

Fuiavailiili is accused of using the legal process in order to accomplish an ulterior purpose of oppression against the plaintiff. 

Mr. Misa claims that the Commissioner abused the process to effect an improper purpose. 

The third cause of action is against the third defendant or the Ministry of Police for unlawful arrest and unlawful detention. 

By Pai Mulitalo Ale 19 November 2016, 12:00AM

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