Judicial Service Commission recommends to suspend President of Lands and Titles Court

The Judicial Service Commission (J.S.C.) has unanimously voted to recommend the suspension of the President of the Lands and Titles Court, Fepulea’i Atilla Ropati. 

This was confirmed by the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration Acting Chief Executive Officer, Tofilau Shamilla Leavai, who is also the Secretary for the J.S.C. 

The J.S.C. members comprises the Acting Chief Justice Vui Clarence Nelson, Attorney General Lemalu Hermann Reztlaff and the Associate Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, So’oalo Mene. 

Fepulea’i, who has been on special leave since March 2018, was convicted and fined $7,000 by the Appellate Court two months ago. 

This is in connection to causing actual bodily harm with intent on Saili Leota, a security guard of the M.J.C.A. 

“We served the letter yesterday to Fepuleai’s wife as he is overseas," Tofilau said. "The decision by the J.S.C. is to recommend the suspension of the President to the Head of State. And it is the Attorney General’s Office that prepares the warrant of suspension, that will be endorsed by the Head of State."

The Acting C.E.O. also explained the recommendation to suspend Fepulea'i's services is underway to await the sitting of Parliament. 

“They (Parliament) make the final decision whether to terminate or what decision they come up with. For the time being, the J.S.C. cannot terminate the President’s employment status with the M.J.C.A.”  

The Acting C.E.O. confirmed the decision was “unanimous” by the J.S.C. on the suspension recommendation.  

Last week, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi said the decision on the future of Fepulea’i will most likely end up before Parliament. This only happens after the decision by the J.S.C. is being challenged, or if there are any legal issues. 

“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," Tuilaepa said. 

Attempts to obtain a comment from Fepulea'i have been unsuccessful.


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