The trial dates have finally been set for a father facing multiple counts of rape and incest towards his biological daughter who had passed away in 2019.
During Monday morning criminal mentions, the Chief Justice assigned the 22nd of September for the defendant’s bail hearing, and the week of 03 May 2021 for the trial.
The young victim passed away on the 12th of February 2019 from a heart condition, aged 18, and in a first for Samoa the trial will continue, with the deceased girl’s voice to be heard in Court through two written statements taken by Police before her death.
Last week Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke ruled in favor of Prosecution who had applied under the Evidence Act for the deceased victim’s statements to be tendered as admissible hearsay evidence. He had also ordered name suppression and prohibited the publication of his ruling “to ensure a fair trial for the accused”.
Justice Leiataualesa had acknowledged the detailed researched submissions from Counsel that assisted in his decision and gave Prosecution until 16 September 2020 to finalise charges against the accused.
At the time of her death, the young victim had been under the protection of the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG), to await police investigations and court proceedings into the matter.
It was an SVSG Village Representative member from one of the villages in Upolu who had first reported the matter to police in 2018 in relation to alleged incidents dating back to 2014. Due to the high rate of under-reporting of sexual and domestic violence in Samoa, the SVSG have village representative members placed within villages. They offer support and help to report on cases, often swept under the carpet by communities despite their situations being well-known to many within a village setting.
SVSG has not stopped advocating for justice since the young girl’s death and say they await with much anticipation the trial of a case where acts of sexual violence were allegedly carried out over several years towards a young girl by her own parent.