Election candidate to appeal guilty verdict

DT
By Deidre Tautua-Fanene, 12 September 2017

A candidate from last year’s General Election, Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio, found guilty of bribery and treating is set to appeal the District Court’s decision delivered against him last week.

The candidate for Gagaemauga No. 1 had faced seven charges of bribery and treating in relation to last year’s election.

The charges were brought in a private prosecution by five electors of the constituency, namely Fa’atauuu Malautea, Felagolagomai Tino, Ituao Enele, Taulamago Simone, Tevaga Samilolo and Va Vea. 

They were represented by lawyer, Ruby Drake. 

Tuala was represented by lawyer, Te’o Richard Fa’ai’uaso.

Judge Talasa Lumepa Atoa Sa’aga presided.

According to Judge Atoa’s decision, she dismissed one charge of bribery in information 863/16.

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“I am not satisfied that the defendant committed the offence of bribery in respect of: 

“He would provide school resources to improve schools, he would ensure that the compensation will be paid to landowners whole lands would be taken for the construction of a bridge in the village.

“He would pay for airfare of twenty people listed to go to New Zealand for apple picking and he would arrange for a lawn mowing contractor to established in Samalaeulu and thereby provide employment for the young people in the village.

“This charge is hereby dismissed.”

He was found guilty of six other charges.

Contacted for a comment, Tuala said he is appealing the decision.

“The Court’s decision is the Court’s decision but the case will go to an appeal,” he said.

“I think everyone knows that this will go to an appeal and that is all I can say about it.”

In the meantime, the matter is set for sentencing on Thursday this week.

DT
By Deidre Tautua-Fanene, 12 September 2017

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