Lupeomanu Pelenato Fonoti charged with assault
The Assistant Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F.), Lupeomanu Pelenato Fonoti, was arrested and charged with one count of assault on Saturday.
The arrest stems from an incident between the Assistant C.E.O. and farmer and businessman, Papali'i Panoa Tavita, at a meeting at the Quarantine Office at Matautu last week.
The police charge sheet shows Lupeomanu faces one count of assault which carries a maximum penalty of up to one year's imprisonment.
The altercation is alleged to have occurred during the Pesticide Technical Committee Meeting chaired by the (M.A.F.) Chief Executive Officer, Tilafono David Hunter.
The Assistant C.E.O. was released on bail and is scheduled to appear in the District Court for mention on September 10, 2019.
Lupeomanu strongly denied the incident when contacted by the Samoa Observer on Thursday.
“Nothing happened," he said.
“That’s a lie. If I did assault him I should’ve been arrested by now."
Papali'i told the Samoa Observer said the incident began with queries about why documents had not been distributed to members of the meeting.
He alleged that the Assistant C.E.O., who is responsible for circulating meeting documents, said it was a waste of time and ink to do so as the members do not read the papers.
“I responded to what he had said and I said that that is an assumption from him but it is not true,” claimed Papalii.
“So that is how it started and then he said he was going to punch my mouth and I said to him to go ahead and do it.
“He actually did and I didn’t expect it.”
Papali'i said he has also filed a complaint with the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) on the conduct of the Assistant C.E.O.
The Assistant C.E.O. faces a separate charge in the District Court allegedly using abusive language against the staff of a local hotel.
This is in connection to an incident in Savai'i in June, 2019 where Lupeomanu allegedly swore at the Manager of the Vai Moana Seaside Lodge.