Leaders of HRPP and other respondents apologised to the court and “each of them unreservedly withdraws [their] statements”


Five out of eight respondents named in the criminal contempt of court case have apologised to the court and “each of them unreservedly withdraws [their] statements” including former Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi.

This was made known in the court today, during the virtual hearing in relation to the application filed by Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa on behalf of the FAST party accusing the respondents for allegedly undermining the court’s authority pertaining to the decision on electoral matters.

The respondents who have apologized, as from Tuilaepa who participated virtually are Deputy Leader Fonoteo Lauofo Meredith and HRPP Secretary Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi; Maiva Visekota Peteru and Tologata Sioeli Alofaifo.

Others implicated in separate matters includes former Attorney General, Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale, former Clerk of the House, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei and the Former Speaker of the House, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi.

Presiding the matter virtually are overseas Justices, Robert Fisher and Raynor Archer.

David Gilbertson representing Tuileapa says a written statement dated 24 February, whereas the former Prime Minister apoligised to the court noted that its time for Samoa to move forward.

Adding that Tuilaepa acknowledges making the statement against the court that are now against him in the proceedings, and accepts the courts of Samoa is the fundamental principle of law and “he regrets making the statement and unreservedly withdraws them and apologises to the court and its judges for making the statements and for any loss of confidence in the courts of Samoa that are caused by statement.

Gilbertson also noted the admission by Tuilaepa is sufficient and that “no penalty” should be imposed upon him.

The defense lawyer also argues this matter should be civil contempts, not criminal contempt.

According to Gilbertson a memorandum dated the 3 of February was signed by Prime Minister Fiame and Tuilaepa and on paragraph two provides that FAST has decided to seek and make all the best endeavours to discontinue the contempt proceedings and in their submissions in so far as that relates to breaches of the orders, that is the end of the matter.

The Supreme Court considered the charges were of a serious nature and warranted the Court deciding whether or not the Applicants could withdraw their case, in the end they decided that it was not up to the parties to agree to withdraw contempt charges but it was up to the Court such is the unique nature of Contempt.

Aumua Ming Leung Wai represents four of the respondents, includes the HRPP Deputy Leader, Lauofo Fonotoe Meredith; Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi; Maiava Visekota Peteru and Taulealea Sioeli Alofaifo.

In their written submission before the court indicted they are leaders in the community and each hold matai titles and that Fonotoe and Leala are Members of Parliament.

“Each has acknowledged making statements that could have undermined confidence in the Court and Judges of Samoa” and they “unreservedly withdraws those statements and apologised to the Court and judges of Samoa.”

The submission says that Maiava is a former member of Parliament and a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Samoa and “has retracted any statements that could have the effect of diminishing public confidence in the Judiciary and has apologised to the Court.”

“The Eight Respondent, Tologata of TV1 “has [also] withdrawn any suggestion arising from his participation in broadcast events that could adversely reflect on the integrity of the Court or Judges of Samoa, and has apologised to the Courts” as well.

The submission concluded the election of 2021 led to a period of uncertainty – indeed controversy for several months – thankfully now resolved by a series of Court decisions.

“In the current circumstances where a new government has been installed and at a time where Samoa must face many challenges it is appropriate that past rancour be cast aside and the respondents acknowledge the importance of the Rule of Law.”

The written submissions says that each of the Respondents has accepted responsibility for and have publicly withdrawn and apologised for statements that could undermine the rightful confidence that Samoans can have in their Courts and Judiciary.

The Court heard submissions from the Applicants counsel both Mr Ben Keith and Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu who outlined the type of contempt which is in the form of obstruction of the Courts various decisions.

Heather-Latu spoke of the overall impact of the behavior by the Respondents.

The Court has reserved its decision.