Businessman and Former MP files $1.8 Million Tala Law Suit Against 4 Government Ministries

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Translated from FaaSamoa. Businessman and former Member of Parliament from the village of Malie, Maualaivao Patelesio (Pat) Ah Him says he has filed a $1.8 million tala law suit against four government ministries, and former officials including long serving Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

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Speaking to Samoa Global News the former Human Rights Protection Party MP who had previously served as Associate Minister of Health under Tuilaepa’s government said the basis of his application now before the Courts, is the lack of action taken by the Ministries and Government Agencies towards a police complaint he had filed against Maualaivao Seiuli Pepe, a matai from Malie who also happens to be Samoa’s Deputy Ombudsman.

Maualaivao Pat Ah Him alleges the Deputy Ombudsman defamed him with insulting and threatening words during Village Council meetings of Malie dating back to 2020.

The heated discussions at the centre of the law suit took place when the Village Council of Malie was deliberating over endorsing candidates for the April 2021 General Election.

Malie village has the highest number of registered voters in the Sagaga 2 constituency compared to Afega and Tuanai. The heated debates arose from a Village Council stance that Seiuli Ueligitone Seiuli would be the sole candidate from Malie.

However, Maualaivao Patelesio Ah Him had argued it was his human right to run the general election. He ran as an Independent and came in second, polling 152 votes behind Malie’s endorsed candidate.

Malie’s two candidates polled first and second in April 2021.

Following the general election Maualaivao Patelesio Ah Him filed an election petition against Seiuli Ueligitone which resulted in both of them being forced to face the 10-year stand down period for election bribery.

The application before the Supreme Court this week also names former Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, former Attorney General Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale, former Police Commissioner Fuiavailili Egon Keil and former Minister of Police & Prisons, Sala Fata Pinati as respondents.

Maualaivao Patelesio Ah Him says none of these individuals had acted in accordance to the rule of law under their official duties regarding his police complaint.

In October 2021 Police did charge the Deputy Ombudsman with two counts of uttering insulting words and one charge of threatening words. Prosecution had presented nine witnesses including the complainant during that District Court hearing.

In a July 2022 decision, the Court dismissed all charges. In delivering that decision Faamasino Fesoasoani Masinalupe Tusipa Masinalupe had said prosecution did not establish their case to the standard required by the Courts – beyond reasonable doubt.

The Court also stated that Prosecution witnesses agreed it was a usual practice for matai to lift their voices and speak frankly toward each other during Village Council deliberations. “The words were spoken directly and although with a strong tone, there was no altercation or fight between matai during the Village Council meetings in question.”

On a technical issue with dates, the Court had also found that Maualaivao Pat Ah Him had not been present during one of the Village Council meetings at the centre of the complaint.