Ex-N.P.O. Director’s sentence referred back to Judge Fepulea’i
The District Court Judge who acquitted the former Director of the National Prosecution Office of a traffic-related charge will now have to sentence her.
The decision made yesterday followed the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Judge Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma’s ruling.
Now Mauga Precious Chang’s sentence for the charge of negligent driving causing injury will be delivered by Judge Fepulea’i on 26 June 2017.
The matter was before Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i yesterday.
The Independent prosecutor, hired by the Attorney General’s Office, Satiu Simativa Perese suggested that the matter be referred to another Judge given Judge Alalatoa’s involvement the Cabinet-ordered Tribunal which investigated the conduct of Mauga.
Judge Alalatoa said she expected the matter to be raised.
“Yes I was going to raise that because as you know I was involved in the Tribunal of Mauga and the reason why it’s before me is because it was from the Supreme Court,” said Judge Alalatoa.
“And I thought it would be suitable for the matter to be called before my brother Judge Roma as it was he who dealt before with this case.
“He is familiar with this case and I think it would be more appropriate for him to deliver the sentencing of this case.”
Judge Alalatoa added that the practice in Samoa is that if an appeal is successful and the case is referred back to the District Court, it normally goes back to the Judge who gave the decision in the first place.
But Satui objected.
“Your honor I don't believe that in this case the sentencing should go back to Judge Roma,” he argued.
“As you are aware his view of the facts was opposite the findings of the Appeal Judge, Justice Tuatagaloa.
“It would therefore be unfair to ask Judge Roma to sentence the defendant when he didn't think she was negligent.
“Therefore is it possible for the sentencing to be heard by Judge Atoa, who has not had any previous dealings with the defendant.”
Judge Alalatoa disagreed.
“I don’t think I agree with what you are saying Mr. Perese because in my experience this has always been the practice,” she said.
“But I’m sure my brother Judge Roma can consider your request when the matter is called before him.”
Mauga’s lawyer, Aumua Ming Leung Wai supported Judge Alalatoa’s decision.
“I agree with your honor about Judge Fepulea’i presiding over this matter in relation to sentence,” he said.
“That is the practice we’ve always had and if my lawyer friend objects to that then a proper application should be filed.”