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Defamation charge dismissed – Complainant to appeal

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 09 SEPTEMBER 2022: The defamation charge against Australian based Samoan radio host Tiumalumatua Maifea Fetu has been dismissed due to the Prosecution’s failure to provide proof against the charge.

The ruling by District Court Judge, Leota Raymond Schuster was delivered verbally with the full written decision to be handed down to counsels.

The Court’s ruling was based on evidence provided to prove if:

  • there was a publication,
  • publication was limited to Samoa,
  • the intention of the publication and false statement,
  • impact of the statement on the reputation of the complainant.

Of the first two elements, the Court was satisfied that a publication existed and it was not limited to Samoa but to a wider audience outside Samoa.

On the other two elements, Prosecution relied on the sentence “Ana le uia e le faamasinoga auala le sa’o ma le tusa ai ma le Faavae, tou te le o’o i o” – loosely translated (if it wasn’t for a crooked and unconstitutional court decision, you wouldn’t have gotten there) referring to a Court decision that declared FAST as the legal Government.

The question asked by the Court was “What was in the mind of the defendant when he made the alleged false statement?”

On the “intention” and the impact of the publication on the complainant, the Court was not satisfied with the Prosecution’s evidence.

I am not satisfied that Prosecution has proven the intention of the statement nor any actual harm on the complainants, said Judge Schuster.

Complainant to appeal decision
The complainant in the defamation case, Va’aaoao Salu Alofipo told the media outside Court that he is appealing the decision.

He believes police should have prepared well for the case, but the decision has indicated that police have failed in their duty by not providing the evidence and vital information needed by the court.

“This is a challenge for me too as the complainant as I need to work together with police and lawyers on the appeal” said Va’aaoao.

Defendant acknowledge supporters
The defendant also spoke to the media and acknowledged everyone that supported him throughout.

“I never intended to defame or spoke ill of anyone,” said Tuimalumatua.

He said the importance of the case to him as a media person is “balance” and he was only speaking on the theme of the sermon O le Ola Faasausili.

The parties to the case were Va’aaoao and the Faatuatua I le Atua Samoa ua Tasi – FAST party as complainants. They were represented by the Ministry of Police legal officer Jason Tuala and Superintendent Sala’a Sale Sala’a.

The defendant, Tiumalumatua who was represented by counsels Fuimaono Sefo Ainu’u and Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio.