Olo tells P.M. not to interfere with Court

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has been urged to refrain from interfering with the judiciary’s work.

The call comes from independent Member of Parliament for Salega East, Olo Fiti Vaai, who said Tuilaepa should seek legal advice instead of criticising the Court's bail procedures.

Olo said a recent letter sent by Tuilaepa to the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, criticising the court for granting the defendants bail showed a lack of regard for the principle of the separation of powers. 

Tuilaepa’s letter queried the granting of bail to two defendants.  The defendants in question are Malele Paulo - also known as King Faipopo - and Lemai Faioso Sione who have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to murder the Prime Minister. 

The men were granted bail earlier in February on strict conditions. 

The Prime Minister is the complainant in the matter that has been adjourned to November for hearing. 

But Olo feels that the Prime Minister’s letter, dated 9 March 2020, says a lot more about his vision on the judiciary. 

“It is understandable if he wrote [to the Judiciary] about misconduct of Judges but to question the legal process of the Ministry I don’t think that is appropriate,” said Olo.

“He needs to ask his Attorney General’s Office to explain the process to him if he has any questions, I mean that is what they are paid for.

“But this is clear that not only is he making decisions for the executive arm he is now trying to interfere with the justice system and it’s a contempt of Court to interfere with matters before the Court.” 

In the letter from Tuilaepa to the C.E.O. Justice he wrote that he’s been informed that Lema’i and Paulo have been released on bail “without money being paid”. 

“They could’ve at least paid $2 tala but there was not even a snot, the mind screams with amazement about such comical decision making,” wrote Tuilaepa.  “What is the policy in terms of bail?”  

The Acting Chief Justice Vui Clarence Nelson; the President of the Lands and Titles Court, Fepulea’i Atilla Ropati and Supreme Court Justice, Tafaoimalo Leilani Warren Tuala, were copied in the letter.

Olo said the bail process is very clear: no one pays any fee to be released on bail unless the defendant makes an application to leave the jurisdiction. 

An example he used is the son of a prominent businessman who was asked to pay surety or bond from two people when he made an application to leave the country. 

Olo reminded that everyone’s case is treated equally and defendants are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. 

He said he cannot believe that the Prime Minister “has forgotten about these processes that he also spoke about in Parliament previously…” 

Olo further  questioned why the President of the L.T.C., Fepuleai Atilla Ropati, was copied in on the letter when he does not preside over Criminal matters. 

He said the concern was raised by elderly men in his constituency who had asked for answers about why the President of L.T.C. was copied in the letter. 

The M.P. pointed out that if the current bills before Parliament to reshape the L.T.C. had been passed giving the Chief Justice and the President of L.T.C. equal authority then the letter would have been appropriate. 

He queried if the Prime Minister was exercising the bills before they had even become law. 

“With all due respect to the President of L.T.C. but that my interpretation of why he would be copied in the letter,” said the M.P. 

“This tells me that he is not hearing the concerns raised by the people. 

“It's that small notation on the letter that was questioned by my constituency that shows that the Prime Minister has overruled the parliament procedure in passing bills into law.”

Bg pattern light


Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?