N.P.O’s top officials resign

By Ilia L. Likou 02 March 2017, 12:00AM

The two most senior officers at the National Prosecution Office (N.P.O.) have resigned.

The Director, Mauga Precious Chang, and Assistant Director, Muriel Lui, have tendered their resignations in the wake of a report by a Cabinet-ordered Tribunal which investigated their conduct.

The resignations were confirmed by Attorney General, Lemalu Hermanm Retzlaff in an email to the Samoa Observer yesterday.

“I can confirm that this office has received confirmation of the letters of resignation being submitted to government from both Ms. Lui and Ms. Chang,” Lemalu said.

“The Hon Prime Minster is said to be responding formally to these letters very shortly.”

He did not elaborate.

Repeated attempts to get a comment from Mauga have been unsuccessful. She was not home when the Samoa Observer visited and her family members said they don’t know a mobile number for her.

On Monday, the Tribunal recommended that Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi remove Mauga from office.

The Tribunal  sat at Tuana’imato last week for two days. It comprised of the Chairman, Sir Robert Grant Hammond, Tuiloma Neroni Slade and Alalatoa Rosella Viane-Papali’i. 

“We are required to make a recommendation as to whether or not Ms. Chang as the Director of N.P.O. should be removed from office pursuant to s.11(6) (b) (ii) N.P.O. Act,” the Tribunal report reads. 

“The position of Ms. Chang and Ms. Lui must be considered separately because the concerns raised against them are not identical.

“Unfortunately, we are obliged to recommend that Ms. Chang should be removed from Office.

“On the delegation point, she was badly in error despite the warning of senior public servants including the A.G. and the Prime Minister as Minister for the N.P.O. Act that she should separate herself entirely from the prosecution of herself. 

“This matter required the application of wisdom and common sense but sadly, this was not reflected in the decisions she made.

“The obligations she was under were significant constitutional prescriptions.

“Yet when suspended she determinedly clung to the position she had taken up. This was all contrary to public service values. 

“She ignored the conflict and impropriety that facing charges in her personal capacity, she still sought to appoint her own choice of prosecutor. 

“This was easily the most significant concern to all who have had occasion to consider this case. 

“This should not have been done by a Constitutional officer who must have the qualifications required of a member of the judiciary. We again emphasise, the D.P.P. office is a constitutional office with very heavy and significant responsibilities.”

But the Tribunal found that Ms. Lui was in a different position. 

“We have found she had no involvement in the delegation by Ms. Chang of her own prosecution,” the report reads. “We also found that the evidence, and the only concern against her relating to the investigation of the Police, is not clear and compelling. She did try to take advice and the matter was discussed with some Ministers and officials.

“However, it is a fine line whether the N.P.O. work she carried out was a continuance or new work and the evidence before us, it is not possible to be definitive.

“It would be unjust in such a situation to order her removal. 

“There is also a technical situation in that the removal section seems to apply only to a Director and not an Assistant Director. Accordingly, there is no adverse finding against Ms Lui as a result of this enquiry. 

 “We recommend that Ms. Lui not be removed.”

By Ilia L. Likou 02 March 2017, 12:00AM

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