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Brothers' land dispute trial underway

Witnesses on Monday testified during the trial of two brothers, Fotu Baby and Iolano Sanele, who are facing multiple charges stemming from a land boundary dispute alleged to have turned violent. 

The matter, which relates to an incident that allegedly occured in Satapuala and Faleatiu in April, was tried in the Supreme Court before Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren on Monday morning.

The defendants were represented by lawyer Treena Atoa who said that both men would be changing their pleas to the count of using threatening words from guilty to not guilty. 

Fotu Baby is facing six charges in total: causing grievous bodily harm, possession of an unlawful weapon, discharging a firearm, possession of a dangerous weapon, using threatening words, and assault causing actual bodily harm.

Meanwhile, Iolano is facing two charges: causing grievous bodily harm and using threatening words.

Constable Ioane Iosefo from the Ministry of Police's Forensic department drew a map of the land where the dispute had taken place, and presented it as evidence in court.

When cross-examined by Atoa, Constable Iosefo admitted he was not present on the day the incident took place during the Police response operation.

A 65-year-old, Palau Talimatasi, who claims to own the land on which the dispute had happened, gave evidence in court.

Palau is the defendants' aunty; their mother's sister. 

The land in question belongs to Palau's husband's family in Satapuala.

Palau said the incident happened early morning when she, her children, and other young men from her family arrived at their plantation.

By the time they arrived, they encountered two men waiting with machetes.

One was the defendants' father, Sanele Mo'a.

Palau, alleged that it was after she said: "You have no business here", that the defendants' father, Mo'a, called to his children to bring the guns.

Palau told the court that it was at that point the defendants' appeared on the scene with guns in their hands and started shooting, dispersing the group of men Ms. Talimatasi had brought to work on the plantation.

The hearing continues tomorrow.



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