Parliament could decide future of Land and Titles Court President

A decision on the future of the President of the Lands and Titles Court, Fepulea’i Atilla Ropati, will most likely end up before Parliament. 

This is according to Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, who said this only happens after the decision by the Judiciary Service Commission (J.S.C.) is being challenged, or if there are any legal issues. 

Fepulea'i pleaded guilty to a charge of causing actual bodily harm with intent on Saili Leota, a security guard of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration.

He was recently convicted and fined $7,000 by the Appellate Court. 

Asked about what is likely happen now, Tuilaepa said there are three pillars of democracy and for the Judicial branch, the J.S.C. would make the final decision on Fepuela’i. 

However, if there are any legal issues that the J.S.C. cannot deal with, then the Parliament can step in and make the final decision. 

“I had mentioned this in Parliament earlier, even if it’s the Prime Minister, a Judge or the Speaker of the House, the Parliament has the authority to remove that person, given there is enough votes by the Members of Parliament," he said. 

“And it’s clear from reports that an official letter was to be submitted by the President informing the J.S.C. on his decision and the letter finally came through and it was not a resignation, rather it is leaning more towards the Parliament making the final decision. 

“And Parliament does not meet until the end of the month for one day to table the budget."

Earlier this week, Assistant C.E.O of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, Aumua Ronnie Fereti, who was acting C.E.O. at the time, confirmed that Fepulea’i had opted not to resign.

Last month, Cabinet had issued a F.K. directive for Fepulea’i's salary and official vehicle to be seized before the Appellate Court went into session. 

“Directive from Cabinet instructs to seize the salary and the vehicle (allocated for Fepulea’i) has also been turned back into the Ministry,” said Aumua. 

Several attempts by the Samoa Observer to contact Fepulea’i for a comment - including visits to his house - have not been successful. 

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