Appeal filed against General Election candidate

A decision by the Supreme Court to quash a bribery conviction against a 2016 General Election candidate has been appealed. 

The Supreme Court in February this year upheld an appeal by Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio, to set aside a conviction to acquit him and quashed a bribery conviction by the District Court in 2017. 

 Tuala, a lawyer by profession, was a candidate for the Gagaemauga No. 1 electoral constituency during the General Election in 2016. 

The appeal against Tuala, who is represented by Precious Chang, was filed by private prosecutor, Ruby Drake. 

Ms. Drake is acting for Taulamago Simone, Ituau Enele, Faatauu Malautea of Leauvaa and Tevaga Samilolo and Va Vea of Samalaeulu Savai’i. 

In her decision to quash the bribery conviction against Tuala, Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala–Warren expressed concerns about the motives of the informants. 

“It was blatantly obvious from their evidence that the motive was entrapment of the appellant,” she ruled. 

Tuala was found guilty of six charges of bribery and treating by the District Court in 2017 with one charge being dismissed. 

His lawyer then appealed the matter in the Supreme Court. The appeal was upheld. 

That decision of the Supreme Court is now being appealed again by the private prosecution. 

Tuala’s matter is one of 10 civil and criminal cases that will be dealt with in the Court of Appeal that sits on September 9. 

Other matters include an appeal filed by the Attorney General’s Office against former Land Transport Authority (L.T.A.) Legal Manager, Pepe Anoanoai Lafai and the L.T.A.

The A.G. is also appealing a decision relating to the former L.T.A. Assistant Chief Executive Officer (Savai’i Operations), Mata’afa Sepelini who was convicted and fined $3,000. 

The former employees were charged for altering and forgery in relation to certain vehicle's make years on an L.T.A. database. 

The Court dismissed all charges against Pepe in May while Mata’afa was found guilty of six out of 24 charges. 

Mata’afa is also cross appealing the decision by the Supreme Court, which found him guilty of the six charges of altering with intent to deceive and altering documents on the L.T.A. database. 

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