The Contempt of Court motion by the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) political party against eight respondents was heard in a closed court session on Monday morning.
The two hour proceeding was presided over by an all overseas based bench of Justice Robert Fisher and Justice Raynor Asher, who participated via zoom.
Counsel Matafeo George Latu representing the FAST Party confirmed the additional four respondents would be called together with the first four.
The first four respondents include former Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi, former AG Savalenoa Mareva Betha-Annandale, former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Toleafoa Apulu Fa’afisi and suspended Clerk of the House Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei.
The additional respondents are senior lawyer and former MP Maiava Visekota Peteru, HRPP Secretary Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, HRPP Deputy Leader Lauofo Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo and a broadcaster for TV1 Samoa, Taulealeausumai Sioeli Alofaifo.
Matafeo told the media that proceedings on Monday morning focused on setting out a timetable for the case, and the many preliminary matters to be dealt with before the substantial hearing.
“The court session today was about confirming dates and identifying issues to be heard, and there are several issues,” Matafeo revealed.
Aumua Ming Leung Wai is representing the four additional respondents to the Contempt of Court case filed by FAST. Senior lawyer Ruby Drake is representing former Speaker Toleafoa Leaupepe Faafisi.
Another in-chamber hearing is scheduled in a months time, on the 15th of October 2021. It will again be closed, with only judges and counsels to appear.
The FAST motion alleges HRPP have continuously scandalised and undermined the authority of the Court – based on specific wording and phrases used during HRPP live updates and TV 1 Good Morning Samoa programs that have openly publicised their strong views against decisions handed down by Samoa’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.
HRPP’s media campaign openly discusses the party’s position that the Samoa Judiciary have dismantled and destroyed the Constitution of Samoa and have colluded with FAST to displace the HRPP led Government.
About Contempt of Court
In Samoa Contempt of Court is not in an Act of Parliament and so the rules are drawn from Common Law or the decisions of Courts in the UK, Australia and NZ.
There are three main types:
Scandalizing the Court that includes behaviour that undermines the integrity of the Court such as abuse of Judges and suggesting they are bias, dishonest or incompetent.
Wilful Disobedience of Court Orders for acting in breach of the Orders made by the Court.
Contempt in the Face of the Court, where a witness or public does something whilst the court is in session such as swear or shout at the judges.