AG denies attempt to make a deal to withdraw charges against Police Commissioner


The Attorney General Lemalu Herman Retzlaff after today’s hearing of the Tribunal

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 20 FEBRUARY 2017: The Attorney General Lemalu Herman Retzlaff today denied any attempts to make a deal to withdraw charges against the Police Commissioner Fuiavailili Egon Keil, and in return, charges against Mauga Precious Chang would also be withdrawn.

The Attorney General was giving evidence in the first day of the public hearings of the Tribunal currently investigating the conduct of suspended National Prosecution Office (NPO) Director Mauga Precious Chang and Deputy Director, Muriel Lui.

It was pointed out by one of the three counsels representing Mauga and Lui, Aumua Ming Leung Wai, that as proceedings towards engaging a prosecutor to prosecute charges against Mauga, Lemalu made the alleged suggestion in a meeting where Muriel was present.

According to Muriel, Lemalu told the people at the meeting that the withdrawal of charges was what the Minister wanted.

“That is not correct, I did not speak to anyone about withdrawing charges,” said Lemalu.

He also said he “never said the Minister wanted the charges withdrawn.”

He however confirmed that Mauga met with him briefly in his office, where she told Lemalu about the ongoing police investigation about the incident she was involved in, and that “she needs to delegate her powers, and my statement was that you can’t have anything to with this.”

He was also asked if he was related to the Police Commissioner to which he responded “no I’m not.”

The Warrant appointing the Tribunal
Aumua wanted to know if the office of the Attorney General was responsible for drafting the warrant to appoint the Tribunal.

“Yes by the drafting division,” said Lemalu.

He said it was done based on the Cabinet directive.
On the 05 October 2016, Cabinet issued a directive to set up a Tribunal, and Aumua emphasized that the directive, did not mention the word “termination” in it.

He pointed out to Lemalu that the directive never made references to “terminate Ms. Chang.”

Lemalu said he did not have the Cabinet’s decision (FK) copy to which he was given one.

Aumua continued to hammer the world “termination” and Lemalu said his understanding was that the Tribunal would make the decision on that issue.

Aumua continued “that the warrant refers to this Tribunal to be set up to require the termination of the Director of Public Prosecution, which is very different from the Cabinet directive which never mentioned the word termination.”

“The Tribunal was to be set up to look into their conduct,” said Aumua.

Aumua pushed on comparing the Cabinet directive and the warrant of appointees drafted by the Attorney General, and Lemalu said there was “no deliberate intention here to try and differ from the Cabinet directive.”

The Tribunal includes Sir Robert Grant Hammond, Tuiloma Neroni Slade and Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i and will continue tomorrow.