Minister clears the air
The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao, has rejected claims he deliberately set out to defame a fellow H.R.P.P. member in a high profile Court battle that ended last week.
La’auli and other shareholders of the Local Partners and Associates company had lodged a complaint against the Associate Minister of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga, accusing him of fraud and forgery.
The Supreme Court found Peseta not guilty of the charges on Friday.
Yesterday, the former Speaker of Parliament, La’auli told the Samoa Observer he only wanted to clear the air in relation to claims that he set out to hurt another party member.
“I did not lodge a complaint with the intention to deliberately defame him,” said La’auli.
“I did it because I felt that something was not right. I did not intend to damage his reputation and I had no intention to do so. I took the matter (to Court) because I wanted to clarify the issue.”
But now that Peseta has been cleared, La’auli said he could not comment on the decision unless he sees a copy of the written judgment.
“But I respect the decision of the Judge,” he added.
Asked for a comment on Peseta pursuing a civil matter against him and other shareholders, La’auli said he is not concerned by this.
“That is his own right to do so,” he pointed out.
“The time will come to clear everything.”
Last Friday, Justice Mata Tuatagaloa ruled in favour of Peseta.
In delivering her decision, Justice Tuatagaloa concluded that prosecution failed to prove the charges against the Associate Minister beyond reasonable doubt.
The complainants claimed Peseta had forged the signature of Mr. Schwalger in order to transfer shares from his son, Lei’ataua, to his name.
But the verdict from Justice Tuatagaloa last week dismissed all the charges against the Associate Minister.
Peseta told the media the Court case has stained his name and he will pursue his lawsuit against the complainants.
“I have a lot of things I want to talk about because this has damaged my reputation, affected my family and the constituency that I serve as the Member of Parliament,” he said.
“Which means a civil claim will be brought in Court against those involved.”
A copy of the judgment obtained by the Samoa Observer spelled out Justice Tuatagaloa’s reasons for her decision. The decision is published in full on page 5 and 14 of the newspaper you are reading.