Court acquits Westerlund and Savaiinaea for murder

The two men accused over the death of Jeremiah Malaki Tauiliili in an incident at Matautu on December 2018 have been acquitted by the Supreme Court this afternoon.

Herman Westerlund and Suapaina Savaiinaea had pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder. 

Supreme Court Judge, Justice Mata Keli Tuatagaloa delivered the verdict in a crowded courtroom on Wednesday.

In her reasons, Justice Tuatagaloa said there is too much uncertainty in the cause of death. 

"The issue of causation raised as a defence succeeds," she said.

"Both defendants are acquitted of the charges of murder and manslaughter. The charges are accordingly dismissed." 

She added she is not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the punch delivered by Westerlund or the kick from Savaiinaea caused severe head injury to Jeremiah. 

The men shed tears as family members gathered in the courtroom to support them. 

Westerlund was represented by Queen’s Counsel, Aaron Perkins and lawyer Muriel Lui during the trial in February.

Lawyer Leiataualesa Jerry Brunt and Elizabeth Chan Tung-Peters acted for Suapaina.

Attorney General’s lawyer Silupevaelei Rexona Titi is the prosecutor. 

• This is a developing story. More details to follow.

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