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Former Samoa leader unhappy with NZ judge appointments

Wednesday 18 August 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Regional, Samoa

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Former Samoa leader unhappy with NZ judge appointments
Samoa's Supreme Court, in Apia. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Samoa's former leader Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has questioned the timing of the appointment of five judges from New Zealand as temporary Supreme Court judges.

The NZ High Court judges are being brought in to hear contempt cases, at least one of which involves the former prime minister.

In a press release Tuilaepa said: "Why didn't they appoint them when we asked for palagi [non-Samoan] judges to handle the appeal case to replace Chief Justice Satiu."

In July, amid acrimonious legal challenges to the FAST party's election majority, Tuila'epa party (HRPP) accused the country's chief justice of being incompetent and not acting in accordance with the law.

He said last week's decision to bring in new judges had come too late and after the fact.

But Tuilaepa failed to acknowledge that for more than three months he had refused to concede the election and hand over power to FAST's Fiame Naomi Mata'afa.

Last electoral petition decision issued

The former Minister of Education, Sports and Culture Loau Keneti Sio has retained his Sagaga 1 electorate seat after a legal challenge to his result in the 9 April general election.

It was the last of the 28 petitions resulting from the election, with the HRPP having lost nearly a third of its seats through the process.

There are now to be a series of by-elections for which dates are yet to be set.

Loau's opponent, FAST candidate Papalii Tavita Moala, had filed a petition alleging treating and bribery by Loau during the campaign.

After two weeks deliberation the court decision was delivered on Tuesday and the petition dismissed, as the allegations had not been proved "beyond reasonable doubt".

A counter petition by Loau also failed to prove allegations of treating and bribery against Papalii.

The court dismissed the matter and declared Loau had retained his seat.

The former Manu Samoa rugby hardman is now in his third term as a parliamentarian for Sagaga 1.

Samoa police chief to retire

Samoa's Police Commissioner Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil is to leave his job in the second week of January 2022.

Media in Samoa reported Fuiavaili'ili said he would not re-apply when his contract term ends at the beginning of next year.

Fuiavaili'ili said it was time to let others take over and lead the force.

He has been the country's top cop for six years, but has been criticised by the new FAST Government and recently returned from medical treatment in New Zealand.

Last week, FAST legal adviser Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu said Fuiavaili'ili was a good friend of the former leader of Samoa, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, and labelled him as only a "desk sergeant" when he was in the Los Angeles Police.

New police minister Faualo Harry Schuster said on Tuesday the normal procedure for these contracted positions was that the jobs were advertised after each term and the incumbent was free to reapply for the job if they wanted.

Faualo said he had spoken to Fuiavaili'ili and had urged him to reconsider his position.