Court adjourns sentencing, ex-L.T.A. A.C.E.O. plans to appeal

The sentencing for Land Transport Authority (L.T.A.) Assistant Chief Executive Officer for Savai’i Operation, Mata’afa Sepelini, has been adjourned until the 29 April 2019. 

Mata’afa was found guilty of six charges in relation to changing certain vehicle years on the L.T.A. electronic system called Road Transport Administration System (R.T.A.S.).

The matter was called before Supreme Court Judge, Justice Mata Keli Tuatagaloa yesterday for counsel to file sentencing submission. 

Attorney General lawyer, Lucy Sio Ofoia was the prosecutor while Fepulea’i Patrick Fepulea’i represented Mata’afa. 

Fepulea’i told the Court that his client would appeal the matter. 

He sought the Judge direction since the normal process is for the Court to deliver sentence then an appeal is filed after. 

Justice Tuatagaloa said she acknowledges receiving a motion of suspended sentence from Fepulea’i. 

However, she advised the defense counsel, should they decide to appeal, they can do so after sentencing.

The matter has been adjourned on 29 April 2019 for sentencing. 

Mata’afa was one of two management officers from L.T.A. charged. He faced 24 charges, which 18 were dismissed. 

The charges relate to four taxi vehicles that the defendant is alleged to have changed the vehicle year on the R.T.A.S. system himself.

The changes to the vehicle year alleged by the prosecution were made so the said taxi vehicles do not fall outside the 15 year timeframe so they could still be re-registered as taxis.

 The offending is alleged to have taken place on December 5, 2017 as well as February 19, 2018 and April 5, 2018. 

The policy that is at the crux of these charges is the Cabinet Directive of January 2018 – where all commercial vehicles more than 15 years old can no longer be re-registered as commercial vehicles (including taxis and buses) – but instead only as private vehicles.  

This means that every year there will always be commercial vehicles that will be outside or older, than the allowed 15 years old and therefore cannot be re-registered as public commercial vehicles. 

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