16 May 2019, Apia Samoa. The trial of Peter Tulaga accused of attempted murder continues in Samoa’s Supreme Court before Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren this week.
The Court room filled up yesterday with friends and family as well as the media, as they anticipated the video link testimony of the victim, 34 year old Frysna Rimoni.
However before Ms Rimoni gave evidence, Justice Tuala-Warren announced that the Court had considered and accepted an application by Prosecution for closed court during the victim’s testimony.
Speaking to Samoa Global News outside Court a member of the prosecution office said that the application was to protect the victim who has undergone multiple surgeries and face reconstruction.
Earlier in the week, the Court heard the testimony of three nurses on duty the night Ms Rimoni was admitted to the hospital. The Court had earlier heard that it was the sister of the accused, Melania Tulaga and her husband who had taken the victim to the hospital.
Freida Alesana who has been a registered nurse (RN) for 4 years said during her testimony that the victim was brought into the hospital in a taxi by a woman and her husband.
“I walked up to the vehicle and saw a woman lying at the back seat. When she sat up I saw how serious her injuries were.”
“Her face was dismantled, there was no nose or mouth, just one eye was slightly visible but her face was no longer there.”
“Sa ou alu atu i le ta’avale ma ou vaaia ai se teine o lo’o taoto i le pito i tua o le nofoa. Sa nofo mai i luga ma ou vaaia ai le tugā o manuaga o lea tama’ita’i.”
“Ua pala uma ona foliga, ua leai se isu ma se gutu e tasi lava le mata o lo’o tau pulapula mai ae ua leai uma ni foliga.”
RN Freida Alesana went on to tell the Court that while they treated Ms Rimoni, Peter Tulaga’s sister had told them that her brother had stabbed the victim with glass before he shot her.
RN Alesana told the Court that the defendant’s sister had said this while she and two other nurses, Pelepesite Lemalu and Elaine Taituave were all around the victim.
“Sa ou fesili atu i le teine lea na omai e aumai le tamaitai lea ua aafia ae faimai o le girl friend a lona brother;
“Sa ou fesili iai poo fea lona tuagane ae faimai o la ua alu i Tafaigata;
“Ae i le taimi lea sa sii mai ai le tamaitai lea ua aafia i luga o le moega, sa faimai ai le tala a le teine lea na o atu ma lē ua aafia, sa tatui e lona tuagane i le tioata ma fana i le faga.”
When Melania Tulaga took the stand, she vehemently denied that she had said this to the nurses. Melania instead told the Court that it was the nurse who had told her the victim’s injuries were consistent with being stabbed before being shot. She had then conveyed this to her husband.
“One of the nurses told me that the woman was stabbed before she was shot. So I then told my husband what the nurse had said.”
“Sa faimai le isi foma’i ia te a’u o le teine na tatui muamua faga ai. Sa ou fai loa i lo’u to’alua le tala a le foma’i lea na fai maI.”
During cross examination defense counsel Lefau Harry Schuster told Ms. Tulaga that all three nurses testified and told the court that she was the one who told them that her brother had stabbed the victim before he shot her.
“O lea sa molimau tausi soifua e toatolu ma o le latou molimau sa faimai ai, o oe na e faiatu o lou tuagane sa tatuiina ma faga le teine lea.
Ms. Tulaga denied this.
“E leai sa’u tala fa’apena na faia. O le tala lena a lesi fomai na fai, lea la na ou fai ai loa i lo’u to’alua.”
Pelepesite and Elaine also took the stand and their testimony supported that of Ms. Alesana.
They both testified that it was the defendant’s sister who told them that her brother stabbed the victim with a broken glass before he shot her.
In Melania Tulaga’s testimony she told the court that one of the nurses on duty the night she took Ms. Rimoni to the hospital told her that the victim was stabbed first before she was shot.
“Sa faimai le isi foma’i ia te a’u o le teine na tatui muamua faga ai.
“Sa ou fai loa i lo’u to’alua le tala a le foma’i lea na fai mai.”
During cross examination Lefau told Ms. Tulaga that all three nurses testified and told the court that she was the one who told them that her brother stabbed the victim before he shot her.
“O lea sa molimau tausi soifua e toatolu ma o le latou molimau sa faimai ai o oe na e faiatu o lou tuagane sa tatuiina ma faga le teine lea.”
Ms. Tulaga denied this.
“E leai sa’u tala fa’apena na faia. O le tala lena a le isi fomai na fai, lea la na ou fai ai loa i lo’u to’alua.”
The hearing continues in the Supreme Court of Samoa today.