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Court dismisses King Faipopo's motion

The motion that the Court in Samoa does not have the jurisdiction to hear 13 charges against King Faipopo has been dismissed.

The decision was delivered by Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i on Friday who ruled that the Court by virtue of the Crimes Act does have the jurisdiction to hear the matter. 

The judgement means that the hearing for King Faipopo, whose real name is Malele Paulo, will go ahead despite his argument that the Court had no jurisdiction since the video he made, which allegedly defamed the Prime Minister of Samoa, was created in Australia. 

Paulo pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

In her reasons, Judge Alalatoa said even if the accused was not physically in the country at the time he posted the video, the direct and indirect consequences from posting the video were felt by the complainant in Samoa.

She emphasised that the loading of the video did have a consequence to the complainant that viewed it in Samoa and therefore promoting the charges against Paulo and completed the offence “so that it can be heard here in Samoa". 

In January 2018 to August 2018, Paulo made a video and posted it from Australia, and made allegations that allegedly tainted the reputation of the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi. 

“The video accused the complainant of illegal activities in Samoa, including murder, theft, smuggling guns, being a writer of the letter that plotted the murder of Paulo’s uncle Luagalau, being deceitful and corrupted,” said Judge Alalatoa. 

“Prosecution says the video defames the character of the complainant and was intended to harm his reputation forming part of the offence is receiving the false statement by the complainant in Samoa, which fulfills the test. 

"For the purpose of jurisdiction provisions, I am inclined to agree with prosecution on their analysis. This is the first case of its kind in Samoa. 

“Not surprising that in this day and age with internet access with multiple use of various electronic devices forms part and of the parcels. I am of the view that the forming act of the offence was not totally performed in New South Wale. 

“It did not end there…once it was uploaded it became accessed by the world, and viewed by the complainant as submitted by prosecution.” 

Judge Alalatoa said it would not have mattered if Paulo had produced the video and kept it in a private collection of his. 

But the element of the offence is when it was viewed by the Prime Minister in Samoa, where he is a prominent figure. 

Paulo was represented by Josefina Fuimaono Sapolu and Unasa Iuni Sapolu. 

Attorney General’s office lawyer, Iliganoa Atoa was the prosecutor. 

Based in Australia, Paulo faces two additional charges, a similar nature in relation to a recent post on Facebook that targeted the Prime Minister.

Unasa asked for an adjournment so she can seek instructions from Paulo on the additional charges. 

Judge Alalatoa adjourned the matter to Wednesday 5 June to set a hearing date for the initial 13 charges against Paulo. 

He is remanded in bail on conditions that he is forbidden from making anymore posts on social media. 

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