Police Chief case adjourned

By Pai Mulitalo Ale 30 August 2016, 12:00AM

The matter against the suspended Police Commissioner Fuiavailili Egon Keil has been adjourned to the 12th September 2016.

The adjournment is for prosecution to supply the defence counsel with all the trial documents and information about the charges against the accused. 

Fuiavailili appeared in the Supreme Court before His Honour, Chief Justice Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu and was represented by his lawyer Komisi Koria. Leone Su’a appeared on behalf of the National Prosecution Office. 

Defense counsel, Mr Koria voiced his extreme disappointment with the National Prosecution Office. In upholding the evidence of these proceedings, he also told the court that his client has the constitutional right to be promptly informed of the cause of the accusations against him. 

“To date Your Honour the N.P.O. has not had the courtesy to serve copies of the charges to us. We have only been served with summaries that summonsed my client to appear before the court at 10am,” said Mr Koria. 

Koria was also not in a position to enter a plea in relation to the charges against his client because he needed to review the charges first. 

Defense counsel asked for a two weeks adjournment to be prepared and he requested the court for a stern order to be made to the N.P.O’s office, to serve the charge documents by Friday this week. 

Counsel appearing for prosecution said that they could serve the charge documents to the defendant before the end of the day. 

”Since the charges are final, we can have them served,” she said. 

Ms Su’a also told the court that under the prosecution’s normal procedures, they could only serve the trial documents to the defense after the accused enters a plea to the charges. 

However, she would try and serve the defense counsel with the trial documents before the end of the week. 

The allegations against Fuiavailili are in relation to the wrongful arrest of a member of the public, Suitupe Misa, at the Fugalei market last year. 

The charges are also based on a report issued by the Office of the Ombudsman Maiava Iulai Toma, who blasted the behavior of the Police, including the Police Commissioner Fuiavailili, as “irresponsible” and “unlawful” and “cruel”. 

Mr Misa was arrested at gunpoint by a contingent of armed plain clothed officers in front of a shocked and distressed Fugalei Market Place. 

And it transpired that Mr Misa had committed no crime, and the arrest was carried out based on insubstantial and second hand evidence. 

Mr. Misa lodged a complaint against the Police, which was investigated by the Ombudsman’s Office. The findings of the investigation raise serious questions about the actions of the Police and the Commissioner. 

“The Commissioner of Police failed to meet basic investigation principles and placed undue consideration on second hand evidence, leading directly to the wrongful and unlawful arrest of Suitupe,” the report’s findings read.  

“The Commissioner’s decision to arm and allow the use of firearms by his officers contravened the Use of Force policy, was irresponsible, and could negatively impact the overall safety and security within Samoa. 

“The Commissioner failed to take appropriate steps to identify the actions of his officers as being part of a police operation, leading to widespread distress and in one case serious health issues.” 

By Pai Mulitalo Ale 30 August 2016, 12:00AM

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