A.G. will not appeal Fonotoe decision

By Joyetter Luamanu 10 January 2018, 12:00AM

The Attorney General’s Office will not appeal the decision of Supreme Court Justice, Mata Tuatagaloa, who quashed the criminal conviction of former Deputy Prime Minister, Fonotoe Lauofo Meredith. 

The assurance was issued in a statement by the Attorney General’s Office after they were sent questions on whether they will appeal the case. 

Last month, Justice Tuatagaloa ruled that the appeal against sentence is upheld.  

“The sentence imposed is quashed and the appellant is discharged without conviction,” her ruling says. 

According to the statement, the public interest has been served by the fact that Fonotoe was prosecuted for interfering with police work, and was then found guilty in the District Court by Justice Vaai. 

“This decision of guilty remains as Justice Tuatagaloa dismissed Mr. Meredith’s appeal against the conviction." 

“In effect, Mr. Meredith was found guilty in the District Court and his appeal against that verdict was dismissed by Justice Tuatagaloa." 

“Therefore the decision in the District Court that Mr. Meredith’s conduct against the Police was criminal in its nature and proven by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt, remains intact after Justice Tuatagaloa’s decision."

“The decision that followed as to the final sentence to discharge him from having a conviction against his name, as weighed against his public (national) apology, the associated negative publicity and the lack of ability to practice law after three years (inter alia) is in my view one that is within the discretion of the Supreme Court to make as to the weighing of the proportionality decision.” 

The statement further indicates that it is their read in line with the case law precedent applied by the High Court. 

“The Ministry of Police views were also sought by the Attorney General’s office as to the appeal." 

“And the Commissioner is not in public interests, mindful to appeal the final sentence in this case given he is deemed guilty of the actual conduct he was prosecuted for.” 

The statement concluded the charge in the old law and the new law that now applies has a higher maximum penalty." 

“So that this may well have a stricter application in the present law to any members of the public who attempt to interfere with police or government department work in the future."

By Joyetter Luamanu 10 January 2018, 12:00AM

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