Ex-army man disputes report

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia 25 May 2016, 12:00AM

An ex army man who did not appear in the Supreme Court on Monday when his case was called has disputed the scheduled date it was supposed to be called. 

Mualia Salamo failed to appear before Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu this week and as a result an order was made for a warrant of arrest against him. 

But Salamo who contacted the Samoa Observer yesterday, said he was only aware that his case was called on Monday when he read about it in an article in the Samoa Observer. 

“I’m very disappointed that the story came out and I did not even know that it was called in Court,” said Salamo. 

“I’m still in the country. It’s their mistake (the Court) because the last time it was called, prosecution sought an adjournment and it was scheduled to be called again on Tuesday this week…but I’m very sad that it’s out in the press making me look bad, as if I had fled.”

The former U.S. army man is accused of allegedly bringing in illegal drugs and weapons that were found in a container shipped into the country last year.

He had previously pleaded not guilty to five charges against him under the Drugs and Narcotics Act and charges for the possession of unlawful and illegal weapons. 

According to Salamo this is not the first time his case has been called without his knowledge. 

He said at one time he was in Court to support a relative of him and was shocked to hear that his name was also called out. 

“I wasn’t informed that my case would be called on that day,” said the former army employee. 

“But it was, and it was lucky I was in Court to support a relative for his case.”

His lawyer, Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i also clarified that her client is in Samoa and did return in compliance with the Court’s order as a condition of him leaving the jurisdiction to return for his trial. 

“The matter was set down for hearing today (yesterday) and both Mualia and I understood it would proceed to trial as scheduled,” said the lawyer. 

“However, last Friday 20/05/16 prosecution wrote to the Court asking that the matter against Mualia be called yesterday, Monday, 23/05/2016 for mentioning to set a new date as they were not ready to proceed as one of their witnesses was overseas.

Court then set down the matter for mentioning yesterday (Monday).” Alalatoa said unfortunately she did not know about the request by the prosecution as “I took the day off last Friday and yesterday only saw their letter today. 

“Mualia had no knowledge the matter against him was called yesterday otherwise he would have appeared. When he found out about the warrant he did appear voluntarily before the Court Registrar and the warrant is now set aside.” 

In August last year,  the office of the Attorney General made a strong stand  in Court  against an application by Mualia to travel to the United States for his medical checkup. 

His lawyer then, Leuluaialii Tasi Malifa informed the Court that his client travelled to the U.S every year to get his medicine. 

Mualia had promised to return in time for his trial. 

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia 25 May 2016, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

Upgrade to Premium

Subscribe to
Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device.

Ready to signup?