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Senior journalist assaulted outside Courtroom

A journalist from the TV3 Apia Broadcasting company was assaulted by a defendant outside a Courtroom in Mulinu’u while she was trying to take a photo of him.

Journalist Leilua Ame Sene was about to take a photo of defendant Uimaitua Papali’i outside the Courtroom yesterday when the incident occurred. 

The defendant has been charged with murder, which he has pleaded not guilty to, with his trial currently underway in the Supreme Court. 

He was outside the Courtroom talking with his lawyer Leota Tima Leavai during the adjournment of the proceedings.

The assault occurred when Papali'i walked back into the Courtroom and struck Leilua's hands with papers he was holding onto, when she tried to take a photo of him with her phone. 

He was walking behind his lawyer, who was heading back into the Courtroom for the resumption of the trial. 

Leilua could be heard calling out to the defendant, saying: “That is assault”. 

There were no police officers outside the Court at that time. 

The journalist from TV3 told the Samoa Observer she will press charges against the defendant. 

“We reporters do not tolerate these kinds of abuse and being harassed,” she said.

“It is not new and people must be aware that we do not tolerate this and its not okay to do that. 

“I can understand the pressure he is under with his trial but it is no excuse for his behaviour.” 

Leilua said the defendant had apologised to her when the trial was adjourned for the day on Wednesday. 

However, she maintained that she will proceed with filing a complaint against him to deter any future incidents involving journalists from reoccurring.   

This Samoa Observer reporter was standing outside the Courtroom, awaiting the resumption of the murder trial, and witnessed the defendant reaching out to strike the local journalist. 

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