Husband appeals decision in relation to Sa'u Justina's death

A man accused of murdering his wife is appealing a Supreme Court decision that denied his request for his trial to be heard by a Judge alone.

Kolani Junior Lam is facing a murder charge in relation to the death of his wife, the former Unit Trust of Samoa (U.T.O.S.) Chief Executive Officer, Sa'u Justina Sa'u. 

He also faces charges of manslaughter, common assault in respect of his stepdaughter, possession of narcotics and conspiracy to defeat the cause of justice. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Lam is also appealing the Court’s decision to accept the prosecution’s evidence admitted on the basis that it is propensity.   

The issues were raised by Lam’s lawyer, Lei’ataualesa Komisi Koria, on Monday.

Justice Lei’ataualesa Daryl Clarke presided while the Attorney General’s Office lawyer, Lucy Sio Ofoia, was the prosecutor. 

The Court adjourned the matter until 10th June 2019.

Lam has been remanded in custody since November last year following his arrest.

The accused was initially denied bail by former Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu, in December 2018.

In his ruling, Chief Justice Patu stated, “ As I am satisfied that there is a real and significant risk that the applicant may interfere with police witnesses if granted bail and there is no other mater that would make it unjust to continue to detail the applicant, the application for bail is denied.”

Two months ago, Lam also sought to have his trial heard by a Judge alone, without a panel of Assessors.

The application for a Judge alone from the defendant was reliant on the Criminal Procedure Act 2016, which a Judge can rule to have a murder case tried before a Judge sitting alone.

However the application was denied by Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala - Warren.

In the proceeding she also accepted an application for propensity evidence by prosecution.

“On the propensity evidence application of the previous alleged assault of the deceased by the accused, I make the order that that evidence is admissible as relevant background evidence of the relationship between the accused and the deceased," said Justice Tafaoimalo.

“On the propensity evidence application of the alleged strangulation of Ms. Kelsall in late 2016, I make the order that that evidence is admissible as propensity evidence.”

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