Attorney General removed from criminal case against Police Commissioner

APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 05 SEPTEMBER 2016: The National Prosecutions Offices says the Attorney General has agreed to remove himself from any further involvement in the criminal case against the Commissioner of Police Fuiavailili Egon Keil.

The National Prosecutions Office says this follows a clarification of the issues with the Attorney General and a “mistaken impression that he still retained some power of prosecution which he could then use to appoint an overseas counsel of his choice.”

In a press statement issued this morning, the National Prosecutions Office clarifies the issues following media reports confirmed by the Attorney General regarding the appointment of overseas counsels to prosecute the case against the Police Commissioner Fuiavailili Egon Keil and the Director of the Prosecutions Office Mauga Precious Chan.

“In relation to the case of National Prosecution Office v Egon Keil, the National Prosecution Office who holds sole power of prosecution under the Constitution of the Independent State of Samoa, has not delegated its powers of prosecution in that matter,” said the statement.

“The new Attorney General had the mistaken impression that he still retained some power of prosecution which he could then use to appoint an overseas counsel of his choice.

“However that power was removed from him pursuant to the Constitutional Amendment Act (No 2) 2015 and given to the Director of Public Prosecutions, further resulting in the setup of the National Prosecution Office.

“One of the main reasons for that separation of powers was to ensure that the Attorney General avoids a conflict of interest in defending the Government in civil suits, and at the same time prosecuting individuals who are involved in the subject matter of that civil suit. Such is the case with the criminal case against Egon Keil; because the Attorney General is defending the Government in this civil suit (which may include defending the actions of the Commissioner of Police), he would be conflicted had he been handling the criminal case against Egon Keil.

“However the Attorney General’s sole focus now is on the civil suit against the Government. The National Prosecution Office’s role will be to handle the criminal case.

“Accordingly these issues have been clarified with the Attorney General and he has agreed to remove himself from any further involvement in the criminal case.

“The prosecution of the criminal case of Mr. Keil remains with the National Prosecution Office.

In relation to the matter against Mauga Precious Chang, this Office will not comment as our office is not handling that prosecution,” says the statement.

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