Bribery charge against Police officer dismissed

The District Court has dismissed a charge of bribery against Senior Constable, Vaivali Laulu, of Fa’ala Palauli and Alamagoto. 

The decision was handed down by District Court Judge Leota Raymond Schuster on Wednesday morning, following a hearing conducted in February. 

The Officer was accused of one count of corruptly accepting a $50 tala bribe from a Vietnamese man at the Police station.

Outside of the court house, Constable Laulu was a relieved man. 

In tears, he said he was grateful that his name has been cleared and that the decision is in his favour.

The Vietnamese national was visiting his wife, who was in custody at the Police station for the alleged importation of drugs. The case against the Vietnamese woman was later dismissed.

But the charge against Constable Vaivali remained until Wednesday.

“I find that the prosecution has failed to prove to prove the element of the charge beyond reasonable doubt therefore the charge is accordingly dismissed,” Judge Leota said. 

He noted that copies of a written decision will be made available for the parties. 

Laulu was represented by lawyer, Aumua Ming Leung Wai, while the prosecutor was Attorney General’s Office lawyer, Lupematasila Iliganoa Atoa. 

Outside of the Court house, Constable Laulu was a relieved man and he welcomed the decision.

“I have been suspended from work for a very long time," he said. "The reason why I worked is to care for my family and children.”
 He said the criminal charge came as a shock to him.

“However, I let the process takes it course and now [that it’s dismissed] there is anticipation that I will file a lawsuit against the Ministry. 

"It will not be the same, if I do go back to work, considering what happened, but I will not act unless I seek advice from my lawyer.”

Constable Laulu has been in the Police force for more than 10 years. 

Asked for a comment, Commissioner of Police, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil, said Constable Laulu has every right to file a lawsuit against the Ministry of Police if he feels that he has been wronged.

“Everyone has a right to appeal and the right to sue and to freedom under the Constitution and if he feels that it is necessary then nothing holds him back from doing it," Fuiava said. 

“I can tell you that the case was thoroughly investigated by entities in this organization as well as the Professional Standards Unit. 

“The case had also been forwarded to the Attorney General’s office for their review and (we had on our side probable cause) that a crime was committed as to why we made the arrest,” he said. 

The Commissioner also noted that these “decisions can be appealed” as well by the A.G.’s office, but that depends on the prosecution. 

He said the officer was suspended because that is Police protocol.

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