A.C.E.O. guilty, asks for discharge without conviction

A senior Government official who allegedly assaulted a prominent businessman has asked for discharge without conviction after the District Court found him guilty of assault. 

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F.) Assistant Chief Executive Officer (A.C.E.O), Lupeomanu Pelenato Fonoti, was found guilty of one count of assault on Papali’i Panoa Tavita. 

Lupeomanu had pleaded not guilty to the charge. 

In the District Court on Thursday, defense lawyer, Aumua Ming Leung Wai, filed the application for discharge without conviction for his client. 

Aumua also sought a one week adjournment for the prosecution to file their response as the accused’s contract expires by the end of the month.

The prosecutor is Attorney General’s Office lawyer, Iliganoa Atoa. 

Judge Talasa Saaga Atoa accepted the request and adjourned the matter until 26 March 2020.

Lupeomanu was accused of assaulting Papali’i during the Pesticide Technical Committee meeting in August last year at Matautu. 

He has been suspended by the Public Service Commission pending the criminal proceedings. 

During the trial, Papali’i, who is a former General Manager of the Samoa National Provident Fund, said the assault was a result of matters he raised of meeting documents not being circulated before the Committee met. 

He told the Court the assumption by Lupeomanu that the members don’t read their papers was incorrect and it is clear in policies that meeting papers should be distributed beforehand. 

It was during the exchange in the meeting between Papali’i and Lupeomanu that the accused punched the businessman which caused him to fall on the floor. 

However, queries from the defense lawyer questioned Papali’i on his claim, whether it was when he tried to lift a chair that caused him to fall to the ground. 

This was denied by Papali’i. 

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