Monday 23 May 2022, Apia Samoa. A 65-year-old appeared in the Supreme Court of Samoa this morning during criminal mentions to face charges of sexual connection against a young girl. The victim is from the same village as the defendant and her family attend the same church. 9
Inside Court, two matai stood to speak on behalf of the defendant. One matai told Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma, that he and the defendant were looking after their family (o loo tausia le aiga). He said he relied on the defendant because he was getting too old, and asked the Court for leniency.
A second matai put his hand up and stood to tell the Court that he was a representative of the Village Council. He told the Court that the accused had already paid a fine to the village. He added that the 65 year old defendant had already performed a cultural apology to the family of the victim.
Sources from within the village told Samoa Global News that the alleged incident happened earlier this year, and the defendant was fined $20,000 tala, which according to sources, has been paid.
According to a senior member of the village, the cultural apology – ifoga – performed by the accused and his family, was accepted by the victim’s family.
“There was a fine mat of the highest quality, a iesae, about 25 feet long, and they took $5,000 cash..”
The defendant, who remains in police custody, was unrepresented in Court.
Justice Fepuleai granted him time to secure a lawyer before the matter is recalled later this month.
When Court was adjourned and before the defendant was taken back into custody by police, there was a dramatic scene of teary goodbyes inside the Courtroom, when members of the defendant’s family, as well as the Church minister and his wife, and members of the Village Council, all gathered around to offer him support and say their goodbyes.
No members of the victim’s family were present in Court.