Chief Justice Allows Suspended President of LTC to Leave the Country

Fepuleai Atilla Ropati suspended President
Fepuleai Atilla Ropati suspended President

The suspended President of the Lands and Titles Court, Fepuleai Atilla Ropati has been granted application to leave the country by a decision handed down by His Honour, Chief Justice Patu Tiavasue Falefatu Sapolu during the criminal mention last week.

Fepuleai told the Court that he wished to take his mother overseas but he was uncertain as to the exact date of travel because they are awaiting the approval of her visa application.

The matter involving Fepuleai has been back and forth within the Court system since he was charged with assault for allegedly striking the Ministry’s security guard with a bottle during a staff function.

The suspended President of LTC appeared before District Court Judge Alalatoa Rosella Viane Papallii where he pleaded guilty and received a discharge without conviction. The Office of the Attorney General appealed the decision.

In November this year the matter was called before Supreme Court Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke and in his decision he quashed the discharge without conviction and ruled that the matter be remitted back to the District Court for a re-trial, with the direction that section 17 of the sentencing act 2016 is applied.

Fepulea’i is represented by former Attorney General Aumua Ming Leung Wai, who filed a cross appeal which was then referred to the Supreme Court by Judge Alalatoa.

In Court on Monday, Chief Justice Patu granted the application for leave, but ordered the defendant to return back to Samoa by the end of February 2019.

Section 17 of the Sentencing Act 2016:  In determining a sentence or other disposition of the case, a court: (a) may accept as proved any fact that was disclosed by evidence at the hearing or trial and any facts agreed on by the prosecutor and the defendant; and  (b) must accept as proved all facts, express or implied, that are essential to a plea of guilty or a finding of guilt. (2) If a fact that is relevant to the determination of a sentence or other disposition of the case is asserted by one party and disputed by the other: (a) the court must indicate to the parties the weight that it would be likely to attach to the disputed fact if it were found to exist, and its significance to the sentence or other disposition of the case; (b) if a party wishes the court to rely on that fact, the parties may adduce evidence as to its existence unless the court is satisfied that sufficient evidence was adduced at the hearing or trial; (c) any fact in dispute must be established to the satisfaction of the judge; (d) either party may with the leave of the judge crossexamine any witness called by the other party.