12 Church Ministers now facing Court

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By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu, 23 December 2018

Reverend Elder Tavita Anesone of the Congregational Christian appeared in the District Court before Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i for mention last Tuesday. 

The appearance of Reverend Elder Anesone brings to 12 the number of Church Ministers to appear in Court last week. They each face two counts of failure to withhold tax and failure to file wage tax returns.

Counsel Alex Su’a represented the Church Minister with Alesana Tumua for the Ministry for Revenue. 

Other Church Ministers who appeared in court before Judge Fepuela’i Ameperosa Roma were Reverends Fa’au’uga Mata’utia, Taise Ioapo, Faraimo Ti’iti’i; Fili Matalavea; Fuaao Fuimaono; Iese Uele; Pita Toleafoa; Seilala Luamanuvae; Siaosi Salesulu and Tunumoso Isaia.

Su’a then sought an adjournment to February 5, 2019. But Judge Alalatoa questioned the rational of a month-plus adjournment when one to two weeks is the standard timeframe.

Judge Alalatoa also asked whether the parties are likely to reach a resolution within such a timeframe.

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“We all appreciate no one wants to see their church minister in the dock. But this is the law now and legal process now commencing,” she said.

The parties informed the Judge that a resolution could be achieved during this timeframe. 

Judge Alalatoa then questioned the prosecutor, as to what is it they require the defendant to do pursuant to the charge they brought. 

In response, he said: “All that is required is for the defendant and others similarly charged to file their P4 tax returns.” 

When Judge Alalatoa asked whether the charges should be withdrawn if this is done, in response Tumua said that is possible.  

The Judge then urged the counsels involved to use their best endeavors to come up with an amicable resolution. 

“The matter is adjourned to 2 February, 2019 with the condition that if there is no resolution, then the defendant is to enter a plea and the matter will progress from there.” 

Judge Alalatoa also remanded the defendant at liberty.

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By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu, 23 December 2018

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