09 July, 2020, Mulinuu Apia. The Supreme Court has adjourned the trial of a 36 year old father charged with raping his daughter’s 15 year old friend, after the key witness changed her testimony during cross examination on Wednesday afternoon.
This is the second case in a matter of months for the 15 year old who has been living at the Samoa Victim Support Group’s House of Hope since the incidents were reported in March 2019. In a previous case, her own adopted brother pleaded guilty to her rape and is currently at Tanumalala in police custody awaiting sentencing. In this second case, police have brought charges against a family friend who lives nearby.
The Court heard that the defendant had gone and asked the victim’s adopted brother, for permission to let the victim sleep at their house with his daughter because she was leaving for New Zealand early the next morning. That is the same brother now serving time at Tanumalala for raping the victim.
The young girl told the Court that the defendant woke her up to take a shower. The defendant’s daughter woke up too and he told her to go and have a shower first. That is when she says he had dragged her into the room, took off her clothes and raped her.
However, on Wednesday afternoon during cross examination by Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio, the young girl who is currently living at the House of Hope, with SVSG, changed her evidence and told the Court that it was not the defendant who raped her.
Prosecution asked for an adjournment and returned on Thursday morning with an application for a mistrial.
According Prosecution they have strong evidence that the young girl’s mother came to Court and had a conversation with her daughter, causing her to change her story.
Justice Mata Tuatagaloa declared a mistrial on Thursday morning, telling the Court and the panel of five assessors that there has been an application from Prosecution for a mistrial.
The matter will be called again for mention on the 20th of this month, to reset another hearing date.