9 June 2021, Mulinuu Apia Samoa.The election petition brought by Independent candidate Maualaivao Patelesio Ah Him against former Associate Minister of Works Seiuli Ueligitone Seiuli moved into its third day, with witnesses of Seiuli’s counter-petition taking the stand before Justice Vui Clarence Nelson and Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma presiding.
The first witness called by Leinafo Taimalelagi Strickland on behalf of Seiuli was Vasega Taueetia, 52, from Malie. According to Mr Taueetia, he had heard from villagers that Maualaivao was giving out money at his Nia Mall office in Apia.
Mr Taueetia testified that he then went to Maualaivao’s office where he was given $50 tala and told by Maualaivao to support his election candidacy. The witness told the Court he accepted the money.
“Ia tautuanā ma oe le faiga palota,” Vasega alleges Maulaivao had said to him.
The witness told the Court that when he got to Maualaivao’s office located at Nia Mall; a staff member of Maualaivao asked for his name and number, which was then identified on a copy of the electoral roll.
The same witness then went on to confirm statements in his affidavit, that his home is next door to Maualaivao’s family in Malie, however, he testified that Maualaivao and his family have lived in Malifa for over 20 years, and he only sees Maualaivao when he attends village meetings.
Cross examined by Maualaivao’s lawyer, Magele Leone Sua-Mailo, the witness said he did go to Maualaivao’s office expecting money, and in his mindset, he did not think that Maualaivao was bribing him.
Another witness, 27 year old Lise Pualeo Tagiilima, told the Court she had applied for a job at A-Mart in Saleufi around March 2021. After 2 days of handing in her application she received a call from a lady at A-Mart, telling her to go to Pat Ah Him’s at Fugalei for an interview.
The witness said when she went into Maualaivao’s office, he gave her $50 for lunch while also reminding her to be mindful of the upcoming elections.
“Ia tautuana ma oe le palota”.
Justice Vui Clarence Nelson asked the witness how she felt after she received $50 tālā from Mauala.
“How did you feel at that time, when Maualaivao gave you $50 tala?” (O lea sou lagona i le taimi na avatu ai e Maualaivao le tupe ia te oe?).
“I don’t know,” (Ou te leiloa).
“Were you happy or sad..?” (Sa e fiafia, pe sa e faanoanoa?).
“I don’t know, your Honour,” (Ou te leiloa, lau Afioga).
Seiuli Ueligitone’s case against Maualaivao has a total of 16 witnesses. The trial continues to day 4 tomorrow, Thursday 10th June 2021.