Ex-immigration officer innocent, lawyer argues in Supreme Court

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia – Ah Tong 14 February 2019, 12:00AM

Former Immigration Officer, David Nomereta Uaine, who is accused of the sale of Samoan passports, is innocent.

That was the argument put forward by his lawyer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, during her final submission yesterday, at the end of a lengthy trial. 

Uaine faces 32 charges in relation to six separate incidents of forgery, using a forged document, forged and false Samoan travel document, records information on passport system, certifies false application for travel document, corruption and bribery. 

The passports were issued in the names of Dave Afele Allen; Mark Filo Hamden; Franco Fitu Rudolph and Miriama Kaba Hugo.

 During her final submission, Unasa argued that the alleged offences were not committed by her client.

 “Police officer did a thorough search of the defendant’s house and nothing was found,” Unasa told the Court. 

“Thus the case is built on circumstantial evidence and (prosecution) used what happened in 2017 to consider and determine what happened in 2016. 

“It is not for us to prove his innocence he is innocent and also the only evidence that are drawn from inference but he wasn’t the only one there (in the Immigration office).”

Supreme Court Judge, Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala – Warren, presided.

The Prosecutor is Lucymarie Sio Ofoia, of the Attorney General’s Office who presented her written submission and briefly discussed their argument. 

She said the evidence shows the defendant not only lodged the applications in question, he was the only one connected to the applications. 

“Evidence shows that and it is consistent and we submit there were no other immigration officers involved,” said Mrs. Ofoia. 

“During the period of the offence(s) the applications were lodged by the defendant. Those persons were the same persons on the applications and those applications were processed.”

Going back to the evidence, Mrs. Ofoia said there was money received from the Philippines on the day the application was lodged. She did not say which application it was. 

 “It is all in pen who was involved. Those further discussions we submit (in written submission) and evidence to support the charges against the defendant.” 

But Unasa disagreed.

She pointed out the incidents where the charges arise occurred during the time “international fraudsters” were in Samoa. She was referring to the people whom the passports were issued.

She said they initiated the application with false birth certificates with the different fonts. 

But Justice Tafaoimalo put it to the lawyer that in the case they initiated the application, there was still the part where the applications had to be processed.

In response, Unasa said there are at least 15 people in the Immigration office. 

“Yes it is an open space of so many workers at the office. It could easily happen with one person standing around doing this who had no idea of what is going on…we strongly doubt the alleged offences were committed by the defendant.”

Unasa added her submission in full is contained in a 20-page document.

The matter is adjourned until 5th April 2019 for decision. 

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia – Ah Tong 14 February 2019, 12:00AM

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