BY Alan Ah Mu
APIA: MONDAY 21 OCTOBER 2013: Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo strongly denies obstructing Police after they’d pulled over Associate Minister Muagututagata Peter Ah Him.
The allegation that Fonotoe intervened and on Muagututagata’s behalf, is contained in a report written by a Policeman for his superiors of events of the night of Friday 4 October 2013 after the Associate Minister had been pulled over.
In his report, dated 7 October 2013, Officer Ioapo Isitolo, says he was part of the patrol together with four other officers who pulled over Muagututagata that night after the Associate Minister had executed an illegal U-turn in town.
While attempting to administer a fourth breath test on the Associate Minister who they suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, Fonotoe pulled up, said something, then told Muagutuatagata to drive off, the Police report says.
Muagututagata drove off.
Based on Officer Isitolo’s report, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Fauono Talalelei Tapu, said charges should be laid against both Muagututagata and Fonotoe.
In a statement issued Tuesday 8 October, Acting Commissioner of Police Afamasaga Michael Soonalole’s said Associate Minister Muagututagata Peter Ah Him was breath-tested three times and the results came out negative each time.
In a press statement to Talamua Media dated 18 October 2013, the Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe NP Lauofo says:
“I refer to your article title “DPM and Associate Minister should be Charged” Published in your Talamua issue of the 17th October 2013 by Lagi Keresoma.
I strongly deny obstruction to the Police work which had allegedly occurred on the evening of the 4th October 2013.
For your information, I was on my way home after a family dinner in town, when I saw the Associate Minister’s vehicle parked on the side of beach road in front of the former Agriculture Store Corporation with the Police pick up with lights on right behind it.
I stopped to see whether it was an accident. At that time, testing of the Associate Minister with the breathalyzer machine was in progress. I counted 3 times the test was administered and the Associate Minister was then let go.
As my vehicle was also facing the same direction, I left the scene immediately after the Associate Minister’s vehicle.
When I was approached the following week by your reporter Lagi Keresoma regarding the matter, I asked her whether any official release had been made by police. She said, “I am informed that a written release by the Acting Commissioner will be made available to the media tomorrow morning”. I told Lagi, “Let’s wait for that release”. I will have to respect the official release from the Acting Commissioner as the Ministry’s official word on the matter, as I do not want to interfere with Police work.
I am now informed that the Police’s official release confirmed that the Associate Minister was tested with the breathalyzer 3 times and each time the result was negative. Therefore no offense was committed, no charges laid.
As for the rest of the article, with its innuendos, inferences, implications etc, it appears to be defamatory in my respectful view. In this regard, I am referring this matter to my lawyers for legal advice.
Fonotoe N. P. Lauofo
Deputy Prime Minister
18 October 2013