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Court of Appeal raises concern on why a rape victim changed her evidence

 

By Rula Su’a – Vaai

APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 16 APRIL 2018: The Court of Appeal has raised concern over the change of evidence in court of a 13 year old girl who was raped and indecently assaulted by her 57 year old uncle.

Last week the Court of Appeal heard evidence by the victim retracting her written evidence to police and in trial court that her uncle did not kiss, rape, and indecently assaulted her.

The victim went as far as saying that she did not sign any statement to police, whereas evidence submitted by the prosecution were her signature and that of her mothers.

The concern raised by the Court of Appeal in this particular case was whether the retraction of her evidence was genuine or was it because of external influences of being threatened by her family members.

The appellant was found guilty by the panel of Assessors on charges of rape, unlawful sexual connection and indecent assault against a girl then aged 13 years. On the 10 of November 2017 he was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment.

This appeal against conviction was founded solely on the ground that the complainant’s evidence, at trial was or may have been untruthful and that her post trial affidavit evidence, supported by that of her mother, dictates that the convictions be squashed.

The appeal was dismissed and the retraction evidence rejected.

Some context
At the relevant time the complainant and her younger sister lived in a village in Savaii with the appellant and his wife. Other members of her family, including her mother, lived in a village some distance away. This arrangement had been in place for some years following the death of the complainant’s maternal grandfather.

The offending occurred in December in 2016 a few days before Christmas. On the morning of the particular day, the appellant’s wife and others went to the hospital to visit another family member. This left the appellant who was about 57 years of age.

The trial evidence
The victim was told by the appellant to fetch firewood for the open oven in the detached kitchen. She did so, and a short time later, he returned from the plantation and approached her. The appellant told her to take her pants down. She refused but he kissed her on the mouth causing her to cry. He removed some of her clothing, sucked her breasts and penetrated her.

It was not until a rock had hit a corrugated iron on the side of the detached kitchen that brought matters to an end. Kalifa, a nephew and neighbour of the appellant was seen standing beneath a fau tree watching from a short distance. His presence, and throwing the rock, brought matters to an end.

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