There have been a number of public complaints against police handling of evidence for court cases, and the latest to notice it is the highest Court in Samoa, the Court of Appeal who highlighted this in their written decision in the appeal by convicted murderer, Kolani Junior Lam.
Talamua reported the Court of Appeal comprised 3 senior overseas judges and a local Supreme Court judge presided over Kolani’s appeal against his life conviction last month with the full decision released last week, where the appeal of the murder conviction was dismissed while the appeal against the convictions for assault and attempting to defeat the course of justice are allowed, the convictions are quashed and verdicts of not guilty are entered.
The Judges noted from the trial evidence that police could not produce some of the evidence vital to the trial and in particular was a photograph taken by police 21 October 2018 of Kolani’s body injury.
They noted the appellant (Kolani) had an injury at the time he made a statement with the police and photographs were taken then.
However, police could not produce the photographs at the time of the trial.
The Court also noted that there were many interactions between the appellant and police in the days following the incident but “records do not appear to have been kept.”
“We are not able to identify tangible prejudice to the appellant relating to the limited records maintained by the police,” noted the Court of Appeal. There was also reference to the complainant’s testimonial records which police could not identify at the trial.
“We sympathise with the complainant about the police record keeping,” said the Court of Appeal.