Appeal Court grants Judge-only trial for Kolani Lam case

The Appellate Court has allowed the appeal for a “trial before a Judge alone” in the case of Kolani Lam, who is accused of the murder of his late wife Sa’u Justina Fa’asamoa. 

The ruling was handed down by Justice Robert Fisher, Justice Ian Harrison and Justice Mata Keli Tuatagaloa. 

The defendant is represented by Leiataualesa Komisi Koria while prosecuting is Leone Su’a-Mailo. 

The Appellate Court also issued an order prohibiting the publication in any form of media details of the judgement other than the result. 

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The decision, which is now overturned by the Appellate Court, was handed down in February, 2019 by the Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala – Warren. 

Lam had pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder in respect of his wife Sa’u, and alternative charges of manslaughter, common assault in respect of his step daughter and conspiracy to defeat the cause of justice. 

According to the Appellate Court ruling, Mr Lam’s appeal against the order directing trial by a Judge sitting with assessors is allowed and they directed that his trial is to go before a Judge alone.

“Mr Lam’s appeal against the ruling thy propensity evidence from the witnesses Talei Kelsall, Evile and Lele Fauna is admissible at trial is dismissed.” 

The Appeal Court also expressed concern with the actions of lawyer Unasa Iuni Sapolu, who allegedly made public comments through the media on this matter. 

“It is some concern to us and Mr Koria has provided information and suggest that Ms Sapolu has made public remarks – through the media – of Mr Lam’s guilt and that is highly unacceptable we trust that no other lawyers will repeat that conduct. 

“And Mr Lam is entitled to a fair trial and it is not to be subject to envious criticism before he is tried we hope that we had made the perfectly clear,” said Justice Harrison from the bench. 

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