Court Judge says Prime Minister’s Letter Inappropriate

Lagi Keresoma

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The two accused for an alleged plot to assassinate the Prime Minister whose release on bail caused a letter from the Prime Minister that a Supreme Court Judge said was inappropriate.


By Lagi Keresoma


APIA, SAMOA – 06 MAY 2020: The Supreme Court Judge who released two men charged for the alleged conspiracy to assassinate the Prime Minister, said the Prime Ministers letter that queried the decision, was inappropriate.

In a letter dated 9 March 2020 to the C.E.O. of Justice, the Prime Minister demanded answers on Court processes for granting bail. The letter was copied the Acting Chief Justice, Vui Clarence Nelson, President of the Lands and Titles Court, Fepulea’i Atilla Ropati and Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala – Warren who presided over the matter and released the men on bail 9 March with strict conditions after being in custody for more than six months. The PMs letter also made inferences about the presiding Judge.

Last Friday, 01 May, Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren heard another bail application by one of the accused who breached the conditions of his release when he traveled to Savaii and forgot to sign at the police station at Tuana’imato as his bail required. When he returned the next day and went to the Tuana’imato police station to sign, he was arrested and held in custody again.

Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren

After hearing the bail application, Justice Tafaoimalo delivered her decision on Tuesday this week, 5 May. She ruled to release Lema’i Faioso again on the same bail conditions he was released 9 March 2020 until the hearing of the alleged assassination plot on Monday 9 November 2020 at 10.00am.

“Before this bail hearing started on Friday last week, I informed Counsel that I had been copied into inappropriate correspondence by one of the parties to these proceedings, the complainant. I informed Counsel that I had chosen to ignore the correspondence as it has no bearing on the matter before me,” Justice Tafaoimalo said in a preliminary comment in her written decision.

“As counsel know, communications of this type to a judicial officer is inappropriate from any party or person connected to any Court proceedings.

“This is because such correspondence has the potential to undermine confidence in the justice system, the integrity of the criminal process and can prejudice an accused’s right to a fair and impartial trial.

“I urge Counsel to address this issue with the parties, in particular the inappropriateness of a party to a proceeding writing to a Judge. Any issues that parties may have must come through Counsel and of course, if a party (in this case, the Prosecution or the accused) is dissatisfied with any decision of the Court, the party may appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal