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Samoa Law Society clears the air

The President of the Samoa Law Society, Leiataualesa Komisi Koria, has cleared the air on what he has described as a "misconception" of the Society’s position on the President of the Lands and Titles Court, Fepulea’i Atilla Ropati.

Responding to questions from the Samoa Observer, Leiataualesa said they did not support the recommendation by the Parliamentary Special Inquiry Committee to reinstate Fepulea’i.

“There appears to be a misconception that the Law Society somehow supported the Committee’s recommendation to reinstate the President. It did not,” Leiataulesa said.

The senior lawyer told this newspaper that the Law Society was asked to comment on one particular aspect of the President’s case and it did so.

“If the Committee has interpreted those comments as suggesting that the Society endorsed the eventual reinstatement of the President, then this is a serious misinterpretation.

“The Samoa Law Society did not support the Committee’s recommendation to reinstate the President and did not make any representations to the Committee with that intention.

“Any such gloss on the comments made by the Society is purely the Committee’s.”

According to the Parliament’s Special Inquiry Committee report, they note the written submission by the Executive of the Law Society of Samoa, which stated that though the President was convicted of a violent offence, it should not disqualify him from applying for a practicing certificate to practice law in Samoa.

“The Law Society also confirmed that the President's conviction is not a lawyer — client relationship or a misuse of trust funds, or an offence of dishonesty, that would not disqualify him from practicing law in Samoa. However, thus maintaining his profession as a lawyer thus enables himself to be appointed as President of Land and Titles Court,” stated the report.

The report in question was submitted by a Special Committee chaired by Deputy Speaker, Nafoitoa Talaimanu Keti and the members included Ali'imalemanu Alofa Tuuau, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, Ili Setefano Ta'ateo, Fuimaono Samuaelu Te’o, Faaulusau Rosa Stowers and Tole'afoa Ken Poutoa.

The report said that “the Special Inquiry Committee resolved to recommend, that the Legislative Assembly endorse the continuation of the appointment of Fepuleai Letufuga A. M. Ropati as President of the Lands and Titles Court".

According to the Parliament’s Special Inquiry Committee report, they note the written submission by the executive of the Law Society of Samoa, which stated that though the President was convicted of a violent offence.  

The Samoa Observer visited the Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Parliament’s Special Inquiry Committee, Nafo'itoa Talaimanu Keti at his residence, but he declined to comment.

He referred the matter to Committee Member, M.P. Faumuina Tiatia Liuga who was not available.

Last Tuesday, Fepulea’i was reinstated after the Government’s motion failed to meet the two-thirds majority required under the Constitution, for Parliament to terminate his services.

Twenty-one Members of Parliament voted against returning the President while 18 voted in favour of Fepulea’i continuing in the role. Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi and his Deputy, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa voted against reinstating Fepulea'i.


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