Murderer cries in the courtroom

Tears streamed down the face of a man from Faleula in the Supreme Court on Monday, as he faced sentencing after pleading guilty to murder.

The defendant, Saleufi Faauuga, 30, appeared on Monday before Justice Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma for a minimum sentence hearing.

Faauuga initially pleaded not guilty. 

But last week he changed his plea to a murder charge.

Faauuga sat in the front row, appeared downcast, cried and wiped his tears away as the Court was called to order.

The defendant was drinking alcohol, in 2016, with another man from the same village when they got into an argument.

While drunk, Faauuga took a gun and shot the victim in the mouth. 

The victim later died in hospital from his injuries. 

“This is what the record will note: following your guilty plea to the charge of murder last week this matter was adjourned [until] this morning on the application by the prosecution to consider whether to file an application under Section 65 and 66,” said Justice Fepulea’i on Monday. 

“This morning I have received the submission [from] the prosecution, as well as the Summary of Facts and they seek that the court imposes a minimum of 17 years. 

“Your counsel has not filed submissions and she has asked the court for an adjournment to file a response to the application by the prosecution. Your counsel is to file submissions by 2pm. Monday the [27 July].”

The prosecutor, Fuifui Ioane, of the Attorney General’s Office, is seeking a 17-year minimum sentence for Faauuga before he is eligible for parole.

The defence counsel, Leota Tima Leavai, told the court she was not ready to proceed.

She thought the prosecution was going to take a different approach, the court was told, and seek a sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.

She asked the court for more time in order to respond to the prosecution’s submission for minimum sentencing which she said she had only received that morning.

Hearings and other matters scheduled for this week, the following week and another matter in Savai’i have led Leota to seek a scheduled hearing for later this month.

Justice Fepulea’i has set Faauuga’s next court appearance for 12.30pm on Wednesday 29 July 2020.

The defendant was remanded in custody after his Monday appearance.

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