Chiefs file $3.5 million lawsuit over faceless blogger allegation
Two high chiefs of Leulumoega have filed a $3.5 million defamation lawsuit against others from the same village they say had accused them of being the infamous anonymous "O le Palemia" blogger.
Amiatu Fa’atoafe Leoli Sagata and his brother, Fa’atoafe Mati Saufua, have filed the civil claim in the Supreme Court against Niuapu Leiataua Fa’aui (first respondent), former Cabinet Minister, Tolofuavalelei Falemoe Leiataua and others (second respondents) from Leulumoega.
According to Amiatu and Fa’atoafe's statement of claim, the allegation about them being O.L.P. was made in a letter by Niuapu to the Land and Titles Court and to the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.
The plaintiff alleges that Niuapu penned the letter on behalf of himself and the senior matai of Leulumoega.
The statement of claim includes majority of the posts published by O.L.P. on Facebook against several Government officials and individuals.
The plaintiff argue the accusation of them being the O.L.P. means they are allegedly the author of all the post made by the faceless blogger/bloggers.
Amiatu and Fa'atoafe strongly deny the accusation. They say the allegation has damaged their good name, reputation and good character.
The plaintiff claim they are good friends with the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, and have been for a long time.
“Their friendship has lasted the years, and they do not have anything against the Prime Minister,” reads the statement of claim.
“To publish therefore that the plaintiffs are O.L.P – as the respondents have done, and without proof makes the notorious and unsubstantiated allegation that everything O.L.P. is writing and publishing in its O.L.P. blog – all against the Prime Minister Tuilaepa and the Government is to publish that the plaintiffs are the author and writers of O.L.P…”
The claim states that in February 2019, in answer to an application for appeal of the plaintiffs, Niuapu Leiataua on behalf of himself and the second respondents wrote to the Land and Titles Court claiming the plaintiff is O.L.P.
“The reason was to ridicule and shame the plaintiffs,” reads the statement of claim.
“That allegation is not true, even assuming that it is true, the plaintiff pleads whether or not they are O.L.P. has nothing to do with the matter before the Land and Titles Court…
“Even their own relationship with the Prime Minister, as someone they have known for a long time, has nothing to do with O.L.P. allegations.”
The plaintiff also made reference to a letter written to the Prime Minister in August 2018, where the respondent expressly accused Amiatu and Faatoafe of giving O.L.P. incorrect information and being the O.L.P.
The plaintiff claim includes $3.5 million on general and aggravated damages and $200,000 for punitive.
Lawyer Leuluaiali’i Tasi Malifa is representing the plaintiff while Tufuga Fagaloa Tufuga is acting for the two respondents.
The matter will be called on Monday during civil mention for the respondents to file response to the statement of claim.