One more senior Justice official suspended

One more senior official at the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.) has been suspended in connection to an ongoing Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) Inquiry.

The Assistant Chief Executive Officer (ACEO), Ve’atauia Fa’atasi Puleiata, becomes the latest senior official to be suspended.

Ve’atauia confirmed his suspension when he was contacted by the Samoa Observer, saying it was effective 18th March 2019.

“I was informed on the 18th of March and it was effective immediately,” he said

“It’s (suspension) for a month and we will know the results by then.”

Ve’atauia declined to comment further.

The Samoa Observer could not confirm whether the suspension came from Cabinet or the P.S.C.

Ve’atauia faces P.S.C. charges, accusing him of misusing Ministry vehicles, driving a government vehicle without a valid driver’s license – among other allegations.

The suspension of Ve’atauia preceded the suspension of the Ministry’s Chief Executive Officer, Papali’i John Taimalelagi, who was suspended by Cabinet on Friday 21st March 2019.

The warrant of suspension for Papali’i was signed by the Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualavi II.

On 25 February 2019, the P.S.C. charged Papali’i with six P.S.C. charges, in relation to the alleged removal of Court files from the Court building, alleged inappropriate behaviour towards female employees and alleged misconduct in relation to other Ministry employees among other allegations.

Earlier, another senior official at the Ministry to have been implicated was former ACEO, Galuo Serah Skelton, whose services have been terminated by Cabinet.

The allegations against her have been referred to the Attorney General’s Office for other “legal matters.”

The developments at the Ministry of Justice are connected to an investigation launched by the P.S.C. in August last year.

This was in relation to concerns surrounding the security and release of Court files from the Court to the Office of the Minister of Justice, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u.

The inquiry is also looking into the daily operations of the Ministry to determine whether any breaches of public service values, principles and code of conduct in the discharge of official duties was committed.

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