Court rules attempted murder accused unfit to stand trial

The prosecution of a man charged with the attempted murder of his relative in Fasito’o has been discontinued as he is unfit to stand trial.  

Tifaga Aiono has been in custody since April last year, following the “unprovoked attack” on his relative who luckily survived the ordeal. 

Lawyer Tufuga Fagaloa Tufuga represented Aiono. 

Prosecutor was Lucy Sio Ofoia of the Attorney General’s Office. 

In the Supreme Court yesterday, Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu said it would be a fundamental breach of justice for Aiono to stand trial if he is unfit.

The Chief Justice pointed out that if he is fit to stand trial later on then that is a different issue. 

Ofoia told the Court she has received a medical report from Dr. Tuitama on Aiono’s mental status. She did not oppose the psychiatrist’s evidence. 

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Tufuga noted the position of the prosecution and indicated to the Court that Aiono should remain in prison, while receiving treatment, as he is a risk to society if released.  

In his brief ruling, the Chief Justice said, “My ruling is the accused is unfit to stand trial and therefore the charges against him are stayed. 

“Secondly your lawyer has proposed that it is best for you to stay at prison, while receiving treatment from hospital and it is a matter he will discuss with prosecutor.” 

Aiono, 46, who had a fresh haircut stood still and looked on at the Chief Justice when the order was delivered. 

Before the matter concluded, Ofoia sought the Court’s guidance in making an order for Aiono to be housed as an inpatient at the mental clinic at Moto’otua. 

She made reference to Criminal Procedure Act 2016 section 78 subsection (c). 

The C.P.A. Act reads; 78. Detention of defendants found unfit to plead etc.- (1) When the Court has sufficient information on the condition of a defendant found unfit to stand trial or acquitted on account of his or her insanity, the Court must: (c), is necessary; and  (c) if it is satisfied that the making of the order is necessary in the interests of the public or any person or class of person who may be affected by the court’s decision, make an order that the defendant be -  (i) detained as if an “Inpatient Treatment Order” had been made under Part V of the Mental Health Act 2007; or (ii) released, as if a Community Treatment Order had been made under Part IV of the Mental Health Act 2007.    

However, Chief Justice Patu told the prosecutor that the provision refers to an inpatient at mental health “but we do not have the facilities. 

“When you say inpatient you mean at the hospital because prison is certainly not the place for inpatient. 

“That is why I’m saying it’s a matter for you and defense counsel to sort out if you want to seek the Court’s order - make that application.” 

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