Attempted murder suspect to vacate guilty plea

One of four men accused in connection with the death of a Chinese businessman in Vaitele last year has made an application to vacate his guilty plea. The defendant, Kome Sioeli, appeared before Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese on Monday.

In earlier proceedings, Sioeli pleaded guilty to attempted murder. 

Two of his co-defendants – Mikaele Leilua and Tafi Samuelu – were sentenced last week by Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala Warren.

At sentencing, defense lawyer for Sioeli, Charlie Vaai, informed the Court that he would be filing an application. At the time, it was not clear what kind of application was going to be filed.

However, Prosecutor Magele Leone Sua-Mailo told the Chief Justice on Monday that defense has made an application for Sioeli to vacate his guilty plea. 

But lawyer, Mr. Vaai was not in the courtroom when the matter was called.

Chief Justice Satiu then adjourned the matter to the criminal mentions list for Monday, 3 August 2020, to ensure that lawyer, Mr. Vaai is in the courtroom when the matter is called.

Sioeli’s co-defendant Mikaele was convicted of aggravated burglary. He was sentenced by Justice Tafaoimalo to serve nine and a half months in prison.

And Samuelu was convicted of aggravated robbery and was sentenced to serve six months in prison. But having served more than six months in custody, he was released by the court.

Gogosina, who pleaded guilty to murder, is represented by defense lawyer, Leiataualesa Komisi Koria. His application will be heard by the court on 31 July, 2020. Sioeli was remanded in custody after his appearance.

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