Court orders disclosure of election documents

The Acting Chief Justice, Her Honour Niava Keli Tuatagaloa, has ordered the Office of the Electoral Commissioner to disclose election papers, pertaining to nomination documents being questioned in one of the electoral petitions. 

The order is in relation to separate petitions filed by Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio, Tevaga Tupuivao Mapusaga and Leoa Tauti Kalepo against the Office of the Electoral Commissioner. 

Acting Chief Justice Tuatagaloa directed the order towards the Attorney General’s Office acting on behalf of the Electoral Commissioner to disclose the documents. 

Lawyer, Fuimaono Sarona Ponifasio, who represented the applicants questioned the A.G.’s office for not disclosing the election forms filed by a candidate during nomination. 

She did not name which candidate from the Gagaemauga 1 seat, which the petition is challenging. 

However, she said the challenge is a technical legal issue concerning the nomination documents. 

The Acting Chief Justice then instructed the A.G’s office to disclose and serve the documents, if it's a public document.

“If it’s not governed by any confidentiality then disclose it – come on counsel,” said Acting Chief Justice Tuatagaloa. 

In response, lawyer, Gafatasi Patu, who represented the A.G’s Office, confirmed that this would be done. 

At this point, lawyer Unasa Iuni Sapolu told the Court that was there to represent Leoa, who wasn’t named in the motion. 

But Fuimaono objected saying that Ms. Sapolu had signed as a witness for one of the candidates and would likely be called as a witness. 

Her Honour Justice Tuatagaloa warned Unasa of standing as counsel for Leoa, if she was likely to give evidence. 

She then instructed the lawyer to recuse herself and for Leoa to find another lawyer.

The matters are set for hearing on 23 November until 26 November 2020 before Justice Lesatele Rapi Vaai and Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke. 

They are among the petitions of electoral appeal which will be heard in the Supreme Court, starting on Monday.


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