Police charge senior Govt. official, investigate complaint

The Police have charged an Assistant Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for allegedly using abusive language against the staff of a local hotel.

The charge against Lupeomanu Pelenato Fonoti, the A.C.E.O. for Quarantine Division of M.A.F. was confirmed by the Commissioner of Police, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil, when contacted by the Samoa Observer.

The charge is in connection to an incident in Savai'i last month, where Lupeomanu allegedly swore at the Manager of the Vai Moana Seaside Lodge.

Attempts to contact Lupeomanu for a comment were unsuccessful. Telephone calls to his cell phone and office phone were not returned as of press time.

The Police Commissioner said the senior Government official is scheduled to appear in Court at the end of the month.

“Mr. Fonoti was charged on July 10, 2019 and he’s out on bail,” Fuiava said. “Criminal mention is scheduled on July 30, 2019.

The Commissioner declined to discuss the details of the A.C.E.O’s bail.

But Fuiavaili’ili confirmed that Fonoti had filed a complaint in relation to the conduct of Police Officers in Savai'i over this particular matter.

The complaint was raised in a letter dated June 6, 2019 sent to the Vai Moana Seaside Lodge owners, Tupai Saleimoa and Rosie Vaai, in Asau, Savai'i.

A copy of the letter was also sent to the Police Commissioner – who told this newspaper the Police are investigating claims by Fonoti that Police officers in Savai’i were "unprofessional" when they handled his case.

Lupeomanu claimed in the letter that there was conflict of interest since a manager of the lodge is married to a senior Police officer stationed in Savai'i.

Fonoti’s letter revealed that he and his wife checked in at the lodge and waited for the key to their room for a lengthy period.

When he went to the front desk to check, he found that the staff were practicing their Samoan dances.

It is alleged that Fonoti called used an insulting word to call out the Manager who immediately contacted the Police.

Fonoti claimed that the Manager’s husband is a Police Sergeant at the Asau Police Post in Savai'i who allegedly abused his position in the matter.

Fuiavaili’ili confirmed his office received the copy of the letter and they are looking into the complaint by Fonoti.

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