AG contend with former Deputy Prime Minister’s conviction despite sentence being quashed

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – WEDNESDAY 10 JANUARY 2017:  The Attorney General Lemalu Herman Retzlaff says his office will not appeal Justice Mata Tuatagaloa’s decision that quashed former Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo’s sentence on a criminal charge.

He said despite the sentence being dismissed, the conviction remains.

Fonotoe was found guilty by Judge Vaepule Vaemoa Va’ai at the District Court in 2015 on the charge of obstructing police work, and was fined $200 talā.

Lemalu said the public interest has been served by the fact that Fonotoe was charged and prosecuted for interfering with police work and was then found guilty in the District Court by Justice Va’ai.

“This decision of guilt remains as Justice Tuatagaloa dismissed Fonotoe’s appeal against the conviction,” said Lemalu.

Attorney General Lemalu Herman Retzlaff

He added that Justice Tuatagaloa’s decision means that Fonotoe’s action against the police was proven as a criminal offence.

Fonotoe’s appeal was to discharge him from having a conviction against his name on the belief that he has already apologised, the negative publicity on him and the fact that he could not practise law for three years.

Lemalu said what Fonotoe raised falls in the discretion of the Supreme Court.

Lemalu said the Commissioner of Police’s opinion was also sought on the appeal against the sentence, but the Commissioner did not entertain the idea on the basis that Fonotoe was guilty and prosecuted on the offence.

He also pointed out that Fonotoe was charged under the old law.

“The new law now applies a higher maximum penalty, so that this may well have a stricter application in the present law to any members of the public who attempt to interfere with police or Government department work in the future,” said Lemalu.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo