Appeal Court convicts the President of the Lands and Titles Court

By Rula Su’a Vaai

APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 16 APRIL 2019: The President of the Lands and Titles Court, Fepulea’i Atila Ropati, who is currently suspended, has been convicted by the Court of Appeal and fined $5000 talā and $2000 talā of reparation costs to the complainant.

In reading out the decision, Justice Robert Fisher pointed out that the Court of Appeal’s main concern was the seriousness of the charge.

The matter dates back to 2017 when Ropati assaulted the Ministry of Justice’s night watchman, Saili Leota during an end of year function.

Injuries were inflicted on the victim with two strikes to the head with an empty bottle.

Fepulea’i was discharged without conviction by District Court Judge Rosella Papalii Viane, 11 May 2018.

Fepuleai Atilla Ropati leaving court after the Appeal Courts decision

Justice Fisher added that the District Court judge discharged the respondent subject to certain conditions but without convictions, and it appeared to the Court of Appeal that unintentionally, she had under stated the seriousness of the offence and of the injury that resulted to the complainant.

“Therefore a conviction is unavoidable.”

The court of appeal referred to the incident as fundamentally important to the role of the Judiciary, where their role is to be seen as of high standard to the eyes of the public, and must be held accountable to members of the public.

The Court of Appeal had been sitting last week and gave its decisions late yesterday afternoon including the case against Fepulea’i.

Fepuleai Atilla Ropati was represented by lawyer Aumua Ming Leung Wai and the appellant by Rexona Titi.