Justice Clarke, laments on lack of actions by Prosecution/Police to secure witnesses for murder trial


The decision was handed down by Supreme Court Justice, Leiataualesa Darryl Clarke, last week. 

According to the judgement and sentencing, 44-year-old Sauaga Iese of Aele was allegedly killed at Aele.

The post-mortem report shows that the deceased allegedly suffered blunt force trauma to his face and neck and multiple cuts also to his face and neck. The cause of the deceased’s death is said to be blunt force trauma to the head.

On the 12th of October 2016, the defendant was charged with his murder.

When this matter was again scheduled for hearing on Monday 20 March 2023  Prosecution appeared and applied to withdraw the charges against the Defendant.

The grounds for the application to withdraw charges against the Defendant are that two of the Prosecution’s key witnesses have travelled overseas. 

It is bewildering that given the completely unsatisfactory conduct of this matter almost seven years after the victim was allegedly killed and the defendant charged, the prosecution now applies to withdraw the charges against the defendant,” said his honours. 

The first hearing having been scheduled for 26 June 2017 – almost 6 years ago. Most of the earlier hearing dates were vacated due to the prosecution not being ready to proceed.

He said when the last hearing date was vacated on application by the prosecution on 19 July 2022 on the grounds that the prosecutor’s children were unwell and his honours delivered oral remarks expressing concern over the conduct of this matter and the persistent applications by the prosecution to adjourn matters and vacate hearing dates.

“The continued adjournments of hearings and the vacating of hearing dates before this Court seriously starts to raise questions over the conduct of justice before this Court.

“We must all do our utmost, the Court, prosecution and defence counsel to ensure matters proceed to hear.

“My remarks seem to have gone unheeded. Those remarks should have rung concern with prosecution and police to ensure the hearing of the charges could proceed this [past] week before me,” said Justice Clarke. 

Those remarks were delivered on 19 July 2022. Four months after delivering those remarks, on the 16 November 2022, 2 of the prosecution’s key witnesses left Samoa for New Zealand on the RSE scheme on 7 monthly contracts. 

Evidently, no pro-active steps were apparently taken by prosecution or police to ensure prosecution witnesses would be here to give evidence.”

His honours noted that given the serious delay in the conduct of these proceedings and its completely unsatisfactory conduct over a lengthy period of time, largely due to prosecution applications, he is obliged to grant the application by the prosecution to withdraw the charges against the Defendant.