Court reserves decision on "King Faipopo" case

District Court Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i will deliver her decision into an application for exclusion of jurisdiction on charges against Malele Paulo before the Court. 

The motion, which was filed by defense lawyer Josefina Fuimaono Sapolu, argues that Samoa does not have the jurisdiction to hear the alleged offence. 

Their argument is that the video posted by Paulo, who also known as King Faipopo, was made and posted by the defendant last year while he was living in Australia.

The defendant has pleaded not guilty to 13 charges of making defamatory statements against Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi. 

In acknowledging submissions from prosecution and defense lawyer on the motion, Judge Alalatoa said she will deliver her decision on Friday, 1 June 2019. 

Attorney General Office lawyer, Iliganoa Atoa was the prosecutor. 

In summarising their position, Ms. Atoa maintained that the District Court has the jurisdiction to hear the alleged offence by Paulo. 

While the video was published and posted when he was in Australia, it was however viewed and received by the complainant, Tuilaepa. 

She added the alleged offence occurred between two jurisdictions — Samoa and Australia. 

“We are saying this offence happened between two jurisdictions, which is clear it was published in Australia but the receiving end is in Samoa where the complainant resides,” said Ms. Atoa. 

“The act, which forms part of the offence, has to be in Samoa and prosecution submits that the act of offending, which is publishing false information and statement caused harm. Although published in Australia there is a substantial link of the act happening in Australia and the result of the act happening in Samoa.”

Therefore, the prosecutor submitted that the information by Paulo was published in Australia, but the offence was completed when the complainant who resided in Samoa received the video. 

“The video contained information against the complainant that are false and caused harm to his reputation.”

However, the defense lawyer Josefina disagreed and made reference to the Crimes Act 2013 section 3, 4, 5 and 6 which addresses the jurisdiction issue as to where the offence takes place. 

The sections of the Crimes Act that she made reference to highlighted that the offence must be deemed to be committed in Samoa.  

She also cited several cases from different jurisdictions to support her argument.   

Judge Alalatoa adjourned the matter to Friday for decision. 

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