Envelopes contained cash, court heard
Envelopes containing money were given out during a Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) roadshow in Nofoalii a court heard during an election petition hearing on Monday.
Former Tautua Samoa M.P. Ili Setefano Taateo is challenging the victory of Aana Alofi No. 3 seat and newcomer, Agaseata Valelio Tanuvasa, in the Supreme Court.
The treating and bribery matter was heard on Monday.
A 62-year-old from Leulumoega, Penuafa Sila Siloi tuai, took the stand on Monday alleging he received $50 following the F.A.S.T. roadshow programme held at the Nofoali’I Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) hall sometime in February.
The father of six said while he does not know how much was in the envelope handed over by F.A.S.T. for the village of Leulumoega, he alleges to have received $50 from a chief called Sinaifoa Vaimoana.
Leiataualesa Jerry Brunt and Elizabeth Chan Tung-Peters are standing for Ili whilst Alex Su’a and Fetu Lagaaia are representing Agaseata.
Under cross-examination by Su’a, Penuafa confirmed it was Sinaifoa who gave him $50 from the envelope allocated for Leulumoega and not Agaseata himself, nor did he see Agaseata tell F.A.S.T. spokesperson at the time, Laauli Leuatea Schmidt, to give Leulumoega an envelope containing money.
Asked by Su’a if he agrees the envelope was given as a traditional response to an ‘ava (formal traditional greeting) performed by the village for the visiting party, Penuafa said he did not know of any ‘ava taking place as he had arrived late.
A similar account was presented by 59-year-old Sulufau Petelo Sio from Leulumoega.
Sulufau also alleges to have also received $50 from the Leulumoega Tuai envelope handed over by F.A.S.T.; he also said he is not aware of an ‘ava taking place.
He alleged that a total of $1000 was given to Leulumoega by the party in the envelope that was later dispersed amongst Leulumoega chiefs.
Sulufau said three envelopes were handed over during the roadshow; each for Leulumoega village, Nofoali’I and the Nofoali’I C.C.C.S. women’s fellowship (mafutaga tinā).
Like the previous witness, Penuafa also said he did not receive the $50 from Agaseata nor did he see Agaseata tell the spokesperson of the day to give money for the villages.
Another witness, Ili Reupena Faavae, from Nofoali’I said each village received $1000 along with $1000 for the Nofoali’i women’s fellowship and another $500 for the ‘ava.
Asked how he knows the amounts, Ili told the Court that the amount was said out loud while presenting it.
Pressed by the counter petitioner’s lawyer about the Nofoalii women’s treasurer affidavit stating they had in fact only received $500, ‘Ili retracted the amount he claimed was in the Woman’s Committee envelope.
Justice Vui Clarence Nelson and Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren are presiding over the legal matter.
An educator for more than 40 years, Agaseata secured 675 votes; Ili came second with 560 votes.
The hearing continues.