Former L.T.A. Manager ordered back to Samoa

The Supreme Court has ordered the former Land, Transport Authority (L.T.A.) Legal Manager, Anoanoai Pepe Lafai, to return to Samoa by March to appear in Court. 

The decision was delivered by Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke this week, rejecting an application from Ms. Lafai to be excused from appearing in Court. 

Ms. Lafai, through her lawyer, Fepulea'i Patrick Fepulea'i, had asked to be excused from being present in Court. 

The Prosecution opposed the application. 

The former L.T.A. Manager left the country last year and secured employment in New Zealand following the Supreme Court’s decision that dismissed the charges against her.

She was charged together with a co-worker for various allegations of dishonesty arising from suspected misuse of L.T.A’s computer based records. 

The prosecution later appealed the verdict and the Court of Appeal upheld the appeal, calling for a new trial.  

In his ruling on the application to be excused from appearing in Court, Justice Leiataualesa said there may be circumstances where attendance on an accused for determination of bail may be excused. 

He said each case must be considered on its merits.

“Without limiting the considerations that the Court may take into account, these considerations in my view may include whether the accused is represented by counsel, whether the application is with the consent of prosecution, whether bail conditions are agreed to, and only in exceptional circumstances,” he said. 

“In this case, the prosecution does not consent to the accused being excused from attending Court, bail conditions have not been agreed to and exceptional circumstances do not in my view exist to warrant her excusal from appearing.”

In her affidavit, Ms. Lafai said it is “unlikely” that her employer would allow her to come to Samoa. 

“That is not exceptional circumstances such as to warrant excusing the accused from appearing,” said Justice Leiataualesa. 

“Accordingly, this matter will be adjourned for mention to Monday 2 March 2020 at 10 am for the accused to appear.” 

The Supreme Court Judge also suggested for prosecution and defense lawyer to discuss bail conditions should Ms. Lafai wishes to return to New Zealand for the purpose of her employment. 

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