Police investigation into complaint against Deputy Ombudsman ongoing
A criminal complaint made against the Deputy Ombudsman, Maualaivao Pepe Seiuli, will be prosecuted in Court with a Judge to have the “final say” on the matter.
So said the Minister of Police and Prisons, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, when he provided an update on the matter involving Maualaivao Pepe after a complaint was lodged against him by a former M.P. and election candidate, Maualaivao Pat Ah Him, in September.
The matter began as a verbal disagreement between the two men during a Malie village council meeting. It is then alleged to have boiled over into a heated exchange which led to the criminal complaint being filed two months ago.
Asked why the matter has taken more than two months to investigate, the Minister said their investigation is ongoing.
“At the moment the criminal investigation by the Ministry of Police and Correction Services is continuing,” he said.
“The Police and the Office of the Attorney General are working together on this matter.”
The Minister refused to address the comments made by the Deputy Ombudsman that he was approached by the Police but had told them to leave his property.
“The cops came and I told them [about] a previous incident where the matter was also taken to Court and was thrown out. What happens in the village should be confined [to] the village,” Maualaivao Pepe had said.
Tialavea flatly declined to respond to those remarks.
Asked about perceptions that this was a “simple” case, the Minister said he begs to differ. He pointed to what he believes is a grey area in the laws of the land.
“The incident occurred during the village council whereas some chiefs believe that such incidents should be confined [to] the village, but there is also the criminal’s act that needs to be considered,” said the Minister.
He also agreed that the law supersedes everything, including affairs of the village council.
“But at the same time it is concerning that village council members are not protected when they are seated in official village meetings,” the Minister said. “That is the grey area and there should also be laws to protect the chiefs of the village council, when they hand down penalties.
The Minister went on to give an example of how the complexities had real legal ramifications.
“When the village council is about to hand down sentencing, they will say the harshest things to the accused who is seated before the chiefs, but in the end, they most likely will not penalise the accused but resort to warning,” he said.
“So what happens if this person files a complaint with the Police? All the Chiefs that said anything insulting or more like scolding will be charged and arrested? I am speaking out loud, but these are some of the issues that do occur whereas our law clashes with the culture.”
The Minister added the Police is not “sweeping this matter under the rug, rather the investigation is ongoing.”