Counsels plead for monetary fines for DPM and Associate Minister

Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe greeting a supporter outside court.

By Aiga Tofilau

APIA: FRIDAY 25 APRIL 2014: Counsels for the Deputy Prime Minister, Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo and Associate Minister, Muagututagata Peter Ah Him, pleaded for monetary fines for their clients in their final submission in Court today.

Fonotoe and Muagututagata were both found guilty on one count of obstructing police work.

Muagutu was also found guilty on one count of failing to comply with the breathalyzer test.

Counsel for Fonotoe, Donald Kerslake painted a colorful picture of his client before Judge Vaemoa Vaepule Vaai.

“Fonotoe holds the second top position in Government as the DPM. He served in the New Zealand High Commission office for a year.

“A lawyer by profession, he holds a matai title and is representing the electoral constituency of Anoama’a.

“He is a member of the Samoa Law Society and his married with four children.

Kerslake then asked for a monetary fine after telling the Court his clients’ obstruction charge was no different from that of Muagututagata.

Judge Vaepule thought differently.

“Muagututagata’s obstruction was direct, while Fonotoe was indirect,” said Vaepule.

Judge Vaepule said if Fonotoe had not stopped at the scene of the crime, he would not be charged.

The Judge also said holding a prominent position in government does not excuse what happened on the night of the incident in October last year.

Counsel for Muagututagata Patrick Fepuleai also asked for a monetary fine for his client.

He asked for a $200 fine for Muagututagata.

The matter is adjourned to the 13 May 2014 for sentencing.

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