Former minister’s trial adjourned
The Supreme Court trial of former Cabinet Minister, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, who is facing a total of 161 criminal charges, has been adjourned. The other defendants in the same proceedings are Heather Tupea Schmidt, Apulu Lance Polu, Martin Schwalger and Tuitui Aipulupo.
The defendants face a total of 233 criminal charges in relation to an on-going dispute over a nonu company, involving another senior member of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P) and Associate Minister of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga.
The matter was supposed to undergo a bench trial for three weeks but it has now been adjourned. During the call over before Supreme Court Justice Mata Keli Tuatagaloa, lawyers representing the defendants told the Court that they needed more time to prepare their case.
Their application for adjournment was granted. According to the criminal charge sheet, La’aulialemalietoa is facing one count of alleged forgery, 40 charges of alleged theft, 16 for allegedly obtaining by deception, 16 counts of allegedly causing loss by deception and 88 charges of alleged theft by a person in a special relationship.
Heather Tupea Schmidt faces one count of alleged theft, three charges of allegedly causing loss by deception and three charges of alleged theft by relationship.
While Apulu Lance Polu faces a total of 51 criminal charges, namely one count of allegedly using a forged document, one charge of alleged forgery, one charge of alleged theft, 16 charges of allegedly obtaining by deception, 16 counts of allegedly causing loss by deception and an additional 16 counts of allegedly theft by relationship.
Tuitui faces seven charges of allegedly causing loss by deception and six criminal counts of alleged theft by a person in a special relationship. Martin Schwalger faces one count of alleged forgery.
The matter first went for mention before the District Court and was elevated to the Supreme Court.