Former Opposition Leader and sister fined for election bribery
By Unumoe Esera
APIA: Friday 22nd June 2012: Former Leader of the Tautua Samoa Opposition Party, Vaai Papu Vaelupe has been fined $2000 for the two counts of bribery and one of treating in last years general elections.
The fine is to be paid by 4.00pm on the 6 July or face 2 years imprisonment. His sister Foilagi Masoe was fined $1200 for one charge of bribery to be paid on the 29th June by 4pm or face eight months in jail.
The charges occurred on the 4th and 14 January last year where a bottle of whiskey and $300 was given by Va’ai to Fao Ualesi on the 4th January. While on the 14th January another $500 was given again to Fao and a separate $500 was given to the South Pacific Womens Committee at Asau through his sister Foilagi.
Judge Mata Tuatagaloa delivered her sentence after perusing written submissions by both Prosecution and Defense Counsels.
Counsel for the defendants, Papali’i Li’o Ta’eu Masepa’u presented a further oral submission on behalf of his clients Vaai Papu and Foilagi. He asked that their ages be considered as Va’ai is 68 years old and Foilagi 58 years of age and were at that stage of their lives where they do not wish to be reminded of short comings in the past but to live in peace and happiness in their remaining years. He also stated that Vaai had served his country well through his cultural and church obligations and also his duties within the Government.
Vaai Papu had been a Cabinet Minister under the late Tofilau Eti Alesana.
“I believe they have both felt remorse over what happened and through all this they have learnt an important lesson for the future,” said Papalii Judge Tuatagaloa stated her reasons for sentencing.
“One of the intentions of the Electoral Act is to eliminate and eradicate corrupt practices from elections. Such practices can undermine good governance and democracy of a country. It is therefore a very serious offense.Under the law both the givers and the receivers of bribery can be charged. To truly carry out the
intention of the law which is to eliminate or eradicate corrupt practices from elections then both givers and receivers of bribery must be charged,” she said.
Judge Tuatagaloa stated that Vaai’s penalty was determined by several factors.
“You were found guilty of two charges of bribery and one treating both of which are corrupt practices. The court holds the following very serious against you.
1) You were a former politician and a former Cabinet Minister who was responsible for passing laws which govern and protects the democracy of this country. You have been found to have breached or seriously broken one of those laws.
2) You were a candidate for the Constituency of Vasigano No.1 in last year’s General Elections and you actively approached and gave money and a bottle of whiskey to an elector on two different days.
3) You were a leader of a political party ”
She pointed out that the mitigating factors in his favour were his age and that he is a first time offender. Also he is a “well known and well respected member of the
community. She also noted that the receivers in this case were not charged but can be charged under the law.
As for Foilagi, she was also reprimanded for her part.
“You are the sister of Vaai Papu and you are seen as an agent of Vaai for the elections in 2011. You have been found guilty with one offense of bribery. You commit the offense of bribery while you were the President of the Asau Women’s Committee.
You are 58 years old and a first offender. You hold and play a leading role within the Asau Women’s Committee and their various projects and developments,” she said.
The penalty for corrupt practises is not less than two years and not more than four years imprisonment or a fine of not less than $2000 and not exceeding $5000 or both.