Hearing set for Church Ministers’ Court application

LT
By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia – Ah Tong, 19 February 2019

A hearing into an application to refer a motion to quash charges against 20 Church Ministers and stay of proceeding to the Supreme Court will be heard on March 1 in the District Court. 

The application was filed by lawyer Alex Su’a and Tui Faasili before District Court Judge, Leota Raymond Schuster. 

Avila Ah Leong and Alesana Tumua represented the Ministry of Revenue. 

Each of the 20 Congregational Christian Church of Samoa’s (C.C.C.S.) church ministers are facing two counts of failure to withhold tax and failure to file wage tax returns.    

They are; Tautiaga Senara, Tunumoso Iosia, Faasalafa Vitaoa, Faaiuga Matautia, Faraimo Ti’iti’i, Fili Matalavea, Fuaao Fuimaono, Iese Uele, Ioane Petaia, Lavilavi Soloi, Amosa Reupena, Elefatu Lesa, Poasa Toiaivao, Petaia Leavai, Pita Toleafoa, Siaosi Salesulu, Seilala Luamanuvae, Semikueva Faatoafa, Taise Ioapo and Tavita Anesone. 

In the District Court yesterday all the church ministers were present except for Rev. Siaosi Salesulu. Su’a presented a medical certificate for Rev. Salesulu who was not present. 

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Ah Leong did not object to the medical certificate. She also informed Court that a response to the initial motion to quash the charges and stay of proceeding by the defense has already been submitted.

However, she opposed the application to refer the motion to quash charges and stay of proceedings to the Supreme Court. 

“There is confusion as to the grounds laid by the defense counsel…,” said Ah Leong. 

“I have been served by my learned friend in defense counsel’s application to transfer the information and motion to quash and motion to stay of this very issue. We have responded to this application in our submission and we object to this.” 

Judge Schuster then adjourned the matter to Friday for hearing to the application. 

Outside Court, C.C.C.S. General Secretary, Rev. Vavatau Taufao took time to explain to the church supporters who crowded the Court House the progress of the case. 

He extended his thanks to the fellowship of the church and those that came to support those called before the Court.

Another church minister said a prayer at the end before the supporters parted ways. 

LT
By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia – Ah Tong, 19 February 2019

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