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Associate Minister referred to counselling

The case of the Associate Minister for the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, So’oalo Mene, who had been investigated for "serious" allegations relating to a domestic dispute has been referred to counselling, the Police Commissioner confirmed.

The Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, said both parties involved in the matter submitted requests for the case to be withdrawn.

The allegations surfaced when the Associate Minister's wife, the Deputy Commissioner of Prisons and Correction Services, Levaopolo Rosa Mene, filed a complaint to Police.

The case did not meet the threshold to warrant an arrest on the Associate Minister, Fuiavailiili added.

"For that case there, both sides have written a formal letter to withdraw [the complaint]," he said in an interview with the Weekend Observer.

"We've also consulted with [the] Office of the Attorney General on this particular matter, we've also reviewed the Family Safety Act and there are provisions in there that certain things should be done or can be done.

"So this case the partners do not want to pursue [the case]."

Fuiavailiili said the case has been redirected instead to counselling as directed by the Family Act.

"There won't be any arrests; it didn't rise to the level where he needs to be arrested," he said.

"And also just getting the guidance from the Attorney General's Office and the Family Safety Act, that's the route that we took.

"And that's considering the law, the Attorney General's Office and the opinions of our investigators."

Last month, Police confirmed that a criminal investigation had been initiated against So'oalo.

The Commissioner refused to confirm whether the investigation was over allegations of assault and property damage but said that the matter involved was “serious”.

The Family Safety Act 2013 says that where a report of domestic violence involves any form other than physical or sexual, the Police Officer may, where they consider it appropriate, either:

(a) have the matter referred to an authorised counselling agency and from there monitor the progress of such an arrangement; or

(b) lay a charge or information to commence prosecution, particularly in cases of repeated offending of a similar nature.

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