4 March, 2019. Samoa – Supreme Court Justice, Niava Mata Tuatagaloa has dismissed charges against suspended Land Transport Authority (LTA) senior officers for lack of police evidence to “prove beyond reasonable doubt”.
18 of the 24 charges against LTA Savaii ACEO Mataafa Sepelini were dismissed along with all 6 charges faced by LTA Legal Manager, Anoanoa’i Pepe Lafai.
The LTA senior officials were charged with forgery, using forged documents, destroying or reproducing documents with intent to deceive, using altered or reproduced documents with intent to deceive, damaging or interfering with electronic data and forgery of electronic data.
Both defendants were suspended and later charged in relation to altering the vehicle year for certain vehicles on the LTA computer system called ‘RTAS’- Road Transport Administration System.
In delivering her decision, Justice Tuatagaloa said the police had failed to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt for Anoanoa’i as well as those which were dismissed for Mataafa.
“The following charges have not been proven beyond reasonable doubt against the defendant, Mata’afa Sepelini and are dismissed:
“All four charges of forgery; all four charges of using forged document; two charges of altering with intent to deceive; all four charges of damaging or interfering with electronic data; and all four charges of forgery of electronic data.”
Mataafa now faces 6 remaining charges being, “Two charges of altering with intent to deceive, and all four charges of using altered documents,”
Justice Tuatagaloa has ordered to file their submissions on the 10th of April for sentencing of Mataafa on the 12th of April 2019.
In relation to the defendant, Anoanoa’i Pepe, Justice Tuatagaloa said the prosecution has failed to prove any of the charges beyond reasonable doubt.
“Therefore all charges against Anoanoa’i Pepe are dismissed.”
Outside Court an emotional Anoanoa’i told the media that she was grateful to her lawyer Patrick Fepuleai, and to her husband, parents and children for their patience and support throughout the ordeal.
“I’m emotional, but happy,” she said.
“I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment, it was the verdict that I was expecting but it’s just the anxiety of all”