Ex-top Govt. official faces threat of arrest warrant

The Office of the Attorney General has asked that a former Legal Manager of the Land and Transport Authority (L.T.A.) return to Samoa to deal with a re-trial matter before Court, or a warrant for her arrest will be issued. 

Assistant Attorney General, Magele Leone Su’a, made the request this week when Anoanoai Pepe Lafai failed to appear in the Supreme Court. The matter was called on Monday to schedule a date for a new trial date, as ordered by the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal had ruled to set aside a verdict from the Supreme Court to acquit Ms. Lafai of all charges. 

“It is our respectful submission that the defendant be returned to the jurisdiction for the proper proceedings to be called,” Magele told the Court. 

“It is either the defendant returns to the jurisdiction voluntarily or we will be seeking a warrant of her arrest.

“If she wants to leave jurisdiction, a proper application should be made for bail and as your Honour rightfully alluded to, the defendant is like every other defendant…”

But defence lawyer, Fepuleai Patrick Fepulea'i, explained that when the Supreme Court dismissed the charges against his client, she was free. 

“Prosecution appealed and the Court ordered the matter to be re-trialed so technically she is not under any bail conditions to present,” argued Fepuleai. 

But Justice Lei'ataualesa Daryl Clarke disagreed. 

He pointed out that when the Court of Appeal set aside the verdict on Ms. Lafai, it means the charges against her still stand and bail conditions should be in place. 

“The difficulty is she is not present before the Court to impose those bail conditions, she is not currently under the jurisdictions of this Court.” 

Fepulea'i clarified that Ms. Lafai was in Samoa for the appeal but had left before the Court of Appeal delivered its decisions. 

He added that she is currently residing in Wellington New Zealand where she has found employment. 

Justice Leiataualesa ordered that the matter be set down on 4th November for prosecution to provide a response for the defendant’s non-appearance in Court. 

Ms. Lafai was one of two former employees of L.T.A. charged over altering data on an electronic system for a taxi registration. 

Prosecution appealed against Ms. Lafai’s acquittal on all charges of forgery, using a forged document, altering, concealing destroying or reproducing documents with intent to deceive. 

But the verdict was set aside and a new trial was ordered by the Court of Appeal last month. 

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