Election Petition between Gatoloaifaana and Magele Continues in Supreme Court
Six counts of bribery, one of treating and one of illegal activities has been lodged by veteran Member of Parliament and former HRPP Cabinet Member Gatoloaifaana Amataga Gidlow against FAST candidate who secured the win at the April 9th general elections for Faasaleleaga 2; Magele Sekati Fiaui.
Proceedings in the Supreme Court of Samoa began with counsel for petitioner, Leiataualesa Jerry Brunt applying for an adjournment saying they had negotiations still in progress.
Counsel for Magele, Alex Sua however did not support the application, and told the Court it was unreasonable to adjorn court proceedings.
“E le fetosoaina faa pautolo ia taualumaga o le Faamasinoga,” Mr Sua said.
The Honourable Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese and Justice Tafaoimalo Tologata Leilani Tuala-Warren dismissed the request to adjourn.
The first witness for the petitioner was a matai from Vaiafai, Iva named Fataloto Fealoai Fataloto who accused Magele Sekati of giving him a $50 tala note in March.
Fataloto told the Court Magele had told him to remember the election “manatua le palota”.
Fataloto also accused the mother of the winning candidate, Mrs Taumaloto Fetaui whom the witness claims had told him to remember her son during the elections.
When crossed examined by Alex Su’a, Fataloto said he only remembers being given a $50 tala note, but he does not recall the color of the note he says he received that day.
The second witness for petitioner was a female matai by the name of Memea Vasati Lino.
Married to a Vaiafai matai, Memea testified that she has never seen Magele Sekati nor his mother Magele Taumaloto Fetaui in any village events during her 16 years living in Vaiafai, Iva.
She said in April this year, Magele Sekati came to her and two other women of the Vaiafai’s Women Committee and presented a donation of $1000 tala for the construction of the new Fale Komiti.
She said Magele told them that it is was a donation from his mother Magele Taumaloto Fiaui.
In cross examining Alex Sua asked Memea if she didn’t think that was what villagers ought to do, to assist with donations towards the Fale Komi, and Memea replied, yes.
The other activity the witness testified Magele assisted with was the Iva Catholic Church tausala (a pageant-type of fundraiser where villagers dance as tausala, and have their families donate money).
Memea, who is the Executive Secretary of the Iva Catholic Church told the Court that she and two other matais approached Magele, requesting if he could perform the taualuga for the pageant. A request she said, that was was accepted by the successful candidate Magele Sekati.
Memea the goes on to testify that Magele’s mother turned up on the tausala night with $600 cash and asked that she can pay $400 later, to make up the $1000 tala, which according to Memea, is the minimum amount (tupe amata) for anyone dancing a tausala, or performing the taualuga.
Another witness Vitolia Faifua, a villager of Vaoiva a sub-village of Iva, told the Court she saw a white van dropping off plates of food to her neighbor’s home. She alleged the white van belonged to Magele Sekati’s committee.
“It is the van that I see picking up Magele Sekati’s secretary named Faauliuli,” said Vitolia.
Two more witnesses are expected to take the stand for Gatoloai’s petitions. It has not been confirmed how many witnesses would be called by Magele Sekati in his counter-petition.
The case continues before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.