Pauga changes plea to guilty

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia - Ah Tong, 21 March 2019

The man accused of making a false declaration on a passenger arrival card when he entered the country in January has changed his plea to guilty.

Talalelei Pauga changed his plea this afternoon to one count of false declaration on a passenger’s arrival card. 

Pauga appeared before District Court Judge, Leota Raymond Schuster today.

He was seeking variation of bail to allow him to leave Samoa for Australia. 

That application was later withdrawn and he vacated his plea. 

Lawyer Josefina Fuimaono Sapolu represented him in Court. Iliganoa Atoa was the prosecutor. 

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Ms. Sapolu filed a submission to support Pauga’s application to leave jurisdiction. 

Some of the grounds include the defendant's claim he is running out of medical pills and needs a refill. 

She explained that although the medication is available in the local pharmacies, the defendant is concerned with the condition of the prescriptions if prescribed by a local practitioner. 

Ms. Sapolu pointed out that Pauga needed to see his family and return to work. 

The Court also heard that the defendant has paid for a return ticket to ensure he will come back before his trial in June. 

However, Judge Leota questioned the absence of a medical report from Pauga’s doctor to give an indication of whether his condition is serious or stable. 

He said similarly a report from the defendant’s employee is needed, to indicate his status in his work place and how he is needed at work. 

Following several questions and matters raised by the Judge, Ms Sapolu informed the Court of instruction from Pauga to vacate his plea and entered a guilty plea. 

The matter has been adjourned to tomorrow for sentencing. 

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia - Ah Tong, 21 March 2019

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