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Video-link failure adjourns Court mentions

Telecommunication problems led to the adjournment of sixteen criminal cases on Tuesday, after court officials could not establish a video-link between the Court house at Mulinu’u and the Tanumalala Prison.

A total of 16 defendants were scheduled to appear in the Supreme Court before the Chief Justice, His Honour Satiu Simativa Perese for mention, through video-link. 

But the Court had to abandon the hearing with the Chief Justice saying it was not possible to get a connection for the video-link to be established.

"I see from the activities this morning that we haven't been able to make a connection with the prison. The Registrar and I have already spoken about the desirability of moving the defendants here and we intend to try and do that next Monday," Chief Justice Satiu said. 

"However, this week we saw a situation where we haven't been able to include all our custody matters which is unacceptable. That is the way that technology has fallen for us today...we should never accept that when these sorts of things happen that that's the way it should be.”

His Honour then offered two options to the lawyers representing the defendants and the prosecution: the defendants were transported to the Courthouse from Tanumalala and the Court reconvened at 12pm on Tuesday or the hearing was adjourned to Wednesday morning so the defendants appear in person before the Court at 9am.

"There is something like 16 matters that need to be looked at or the alternative is that we bring the custody matters to Court tomorrow [Wednesday] or those defendants to Court tomorrow at say nine o'clock in the morning,” added the Chief Justice.

“I'm mindful that if we do it today [Tuesday] there are some of you that might not be able to do that so the alternative is for 9 o'clock tomorrow morning for the custody defendants to be brought to Court so we can deal with their matters."

His Honour then called a short adjournment to allow the prosecutors and defense attorneys to come to a decision.

Leone Sua-Mailo, of the Attorney General's Office, led a short conference between the lawyers who were in the courtroom.  

"I have discussed with my learned friends and we are all in agreement for the matters to be adjourned to tomorrow [Wednesday] at 9. We will have all the custodies to be brought to the court tomorrow," Sua-Mailo said when the Court resumed.

The Chief Justice thanked the attorneys who were present in the courtroom and family members of the defendants for their understanding.

He also apologised to the family members of the defendants in the Samoan language. 

"Thank you very much for your assistance, for getting the parties that are here to support...and those who have come to the courthouse this morning in support of the defendants who are at Tanumalala," the Chief Justice said.

"I apologise that our plans have not been realised because the line is not good. Because the line is no good, our Court cases will not be heard...it is not looking like a great day in our Court this morning so we will adjourn our Court cases to tomorrow at 9am.”

It is the second time for Supreme Court proceedings to be disrupted by technical glitches. Last month criminal mentions before the same court were also disrupted when the video-link between Tanumalala and the Courthouse failed to start.

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