Unlawful arrest lawsuit underway

A $1 million tala lawsuit against the Ministry of Police is now underway.

The complainant Suitupe Misa is suing the Police for unlawful arrest and detention in relation to an incident in 2015, when he was arrested at gunpoint in public by a contingent of armed police officers.

Appearing before Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson, the complainant was represented by Seuamuli Sarona Ponifasio with Sefo Ainu’u acting for the Attorney General’s Office. Seuamuli and Misa’s list of witnesses who were subpoenaed included former Assistant Police Commissioners Afamasaga Michael So’onalole and Leiataua Fata Aviga. The hearing is scheduled to run for three days.

Misa was the first witness to testify and amongst issues raised by the prosecution, Ainu’u put it to him that—in his claim before the Court—on whether he (Misa) questioned the legal basis of an order by then Police Minister Sala Fata Pinati, for the police to carry guns. 

But Seuamuli objected to her colleague’s line of questioning directed at her client. 

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“If I may interrupt, this is a legal matter and should be addressed during legal submissions. I don’t see how the witness can comprehend.” 

Justice Nelson then ordered Ainu’u to rephrase his question. 

The prosecutor put it to Misa (who is a former police officer) that upon receiving any complaint, the Police are supposed to investigate.  

“In this particular case, the Police received a tip that of remarks that threatened the safety then Minister of Police, Commissioner of Police and other government officials. 

“This was the report submitted to the Commissioner, is it fair to say in your experience as a police officer, that upon receiving the report, the Commissioner must act immediately,” Ainu’u said. 

However, Justice Vui intervened and disallowed the counsel’s line of questioning. 

“He (Misa) was never a commissioner of police, he is not the commissioner of police and he’s an ex-police officer and the second problem with your question why I can’t allow it, is that if the commissioner of police is going to come and say that: you should put that to him.” 

The hearing continues.

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