District Court to Sentence Pao Before Appeal is Heard



01 July 2020 The owner of the popular Treasure Garden restaurant in Apia, appealing a District Court conviction for the unlawful processing of sea cucumbers for export was back in Court yesterday afternoon.

Chen Pao had filed an appeal through his defense counsel Semi Leung Wai in November last year after he was found guilty by then District Court Judge Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma, of operating a processing plant for sea cucumbers.

Yesterday morning, the matter was first called before Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke for the appeals application to be heard.

However, it was found that Supreme Court proceedings could not continue until Pao was sentenced in the District Court for the conviction.

Defense counsel Semi Leung Wai apologised for filing the appeal before the District Court sentence.

The matter was then adjourned to 12 pm for Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma, now a Supreme Court Justice, to sentence Chen Pao down at the District Court.

During District Court proceedings it was found that Pao had left jurisdiction without applying for bail variations. Defense counsel apologised and took full responsibility for letting his client travel to New Zealand last year, without leave of the Court.

Prosecution was asked to file sentencing documents and the matter was adjourned to next Wednesday for sentencing.

The conviction

An joint investigation was launched early last year by Police and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries into the illegal processing of sea cucumbers. Charges againat laid after authorities searched the Savalalo and Fugalei sites, where the businessman runs a hotel and restaurant.

A delicacy in Chinese cuisine, the sea cucumber is highly sought and attracts high prices in the Asian market.

The Ministry has imposed a national ban in Samoa for the fishing of sea cucumbers for the purpose of exporting.

Maina Vai