Assessors have returned with a guilty verdict in the Supreme Court of Samoa for an ex-husband charged with two counts of rape, after he pleaded guilty to charges of assault.
The 2-day hearing focused on the rape charges denied by Ioane Sio Paterika, who openly testified in Court about assaulting his ex-wife.
He admitted to locking up his ex-wife, and holding her against her will. Taking the stand, he would ellaborate on every question put to him by lead Prosecutor Fuifui Ioane.
The defendant told the Court he did beat Maria, “because I had just learnt of her new husband”.
He also told the Court that he did not approve of his ex-wife’s new partner and that is why he kept her locked in a room overnight, against her will.
Displacing responsibility for his actions, Paterika spoke with confidence about the reasons why he felt his actions were justified.
“It’s embarrassing because that man used to be married to a woman from my village of Vaimoso, so he isn’t the right person for her to be with..” he says.
“Yes. I beat her when I saw his photo on her phone..
“Yes I did lock the door..
“Yes that is why I held her, and told her she would stay there and would never return to him..” testified Ioane Sio Paterika.
“Na ou fai iai, e te lē toe foi i le tamaloa lea, o lea laa e nofo ai lava ii.”
Yesterday in Court, Maria Fao gave evidence of what she described as “the worst night of her life” when she was beaten and raped on two occasions before she managed to escape the next morning, seeking refuge with the neighbours.
The mother of three testified that Sio got angry when he saw a photo of her new husband on her phone. He punched her and taking a 2-by-4 piece of wood, he beat her legs until she felt numbed and unable to move.
“Sa ou faalogoina le gagase o lo’u tino,” an emotional Maria told the Court.
“I could not leave because Sio sat on the bed, which was placed right next to the door..all night long.. and also, I felt weak in my legs”.
She said after the first beating he forced her to have oral sex and raped her, then forced to stay overnight. She was interrogated and punched each time he was not satisfied with her answers, she told the Court.
She was beaten again the next morning, before he again her, jumped on her and raped her.
The first beating was triggered when Sio saw a photo of her new husband on her phone. The second beating was triggered when her phone rang; and it was Maria’s new husband from Afega calling to look for her.
Maria testified that the incident occurred on the 18th and 19th, of March 2020, exactly a year to the date of Court proceedings. She said she had gone with her ex-husband to Vaimoso because she wanted to see her son who lived with his father.
“Sio (Ioane) called me up on the 18th of March last year and said for me to come and pick up some money from his workplace at Vailoa,” Ms Fao said.
“I refused but Sio insisted that I should come and pick up the money and also visit with our eldest son who lived with Sio,” she said.
Maria said once they were inside the small shack at Vaimoso where her ex-husband lived, he locked the door and interrogated her about the image on her phone.
“He jumped on me and tried to spread my legs but at that time I was very weak because of the beatings,” she said.
“He also bit my neck,” she said sobbing.
Police investigators testified and showed pictures of Maria’s injuries including a serious open wound in her neck, where Sio had bitten her.
She escaped the next morning when she heard him leaving the room.
“I crawled to the window and saw him taking a shower.. so I mustered up all the energy I could, and even though I was stumbling, I managed to get to Manuleleua’s house next door and they helped me.
Taking the stand, Reverend Manuleleua Lauese confirmed how he and his wife Fuapepe had called the police and helped Maria to get medical help and support that morning.
When the defendant took the stand, he did not deny beating his ex-wife.
In a complete zone of one who felt entitled to exert his power and control, Sio Paterika would ellaborate on Prosecution’s questions. He clarified that it was not a 2×4 piece of wood, but a smaller sized wood-facing which he says, broke onto two pieces when he hit Maria’s legs.
He swung his arm to show how he assaulted her, and then held up his left arm to show the Court the exact size of the piece of wood that had been left, after it broke into two.
“A piece like this long broke off,” he said measuring out his arm.
“That’s the length of the piece of wood I did use,” he said.
He further added that he picked up the wood because his hand was sore.
Sio ellaborated in all his responses to Prosecutor Fuifui Ioane, but vehemently denied raping his ex-wife because he insisted the sex was consensual.
Presiding Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma had to stop the defendant’s out of topic, ellaborate responses several times.
Sio had no problems describing the assault in detail and told the Court he did punch Maria in the eye and back-handed her in the face.
“I was angry when I saw a photo of this man on her phone”, he told the Court.
Asked by prosecutor Fuifui Ioane if he had locked the door he replied, “Yes”.
“Because I did not want her to go back to this person that was not suitable for her.”
Asked if he raped his ex-wife, he replied, “No”.
According to Sio, the sexual relations he had with Maria during the time he kept her locked up, and after he had beaten her, were consensual.
Again Justice Roma had to intervene when Sio was about to explain to the Court what he referred to as the usual practice of sexual acts between he and his ex-wife.
“Is this what you’re after?” he asked the Prosecutor before directing the defendant to keep his responses on par with the questions being put to him.
The hearing began on Wednesday and Counsels were finally called to present closing statements on Friday afternoon, and it was after 6pm before assessors returned with the guilty verdict.
Ioane Sio Paterika will be sentenced by Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma next month.