Translated from FaaSamoa. Private Prosecutions have been filed in the District Court of Samoa alleging bribery against Prime Minister Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, FAST party Chairman Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt and FAST party Secretary Va’aaoao Alofipo.
Legal Counsel representing the Faatuatua i Le Atua Samoa ua Tasi ruling party, afioga Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu entered not guilty pleas for her clients before Judge Loau Donald Kerslake in the District Court last Friday.
The criminal proceeding was initiated by a private citizen and voter of the Vaimauga 3 electoral constituency, Ms Theresa Coffin.
Ms Coffin alleges that $5,000 tala handed over by the FAST party to voters during a pre by-election roadshow was intended to influence and bribe voters.
Ms Coffin was recently seen in Court as a witness for the Human Rights Protection Party candidate, Samau Leatigagaeono Timani, during election petition proceedings before the Supreme Court.
Also stemming from the Vaimauga 3 by-election, FAST party secretary Va’aaoao Alofipo has filed a private prosecution alleging bribery against the Secretary of the Human Rights Protection Party, Hon Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi.
The allegations of bribery now before the District Court as private prosecution proceedings, stem from the same incidences already heard in the Supreme Court during election petitions.
Last Friday Supreme Court Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke dismissed all by-election petitions for lack of evidence.
The Court dismissed the petition filed by election candidate Samau Leatigagaeono Timani against elected MP Lautimuia Uelese Vaai, as well as the counter-petition filed by Lautimuia Uelese against Samau Timani.
Justice Clarke states that petitions should have never been filed, for they lacked substance and evidence for the Court to properly determine.
A private prosecution is a criminal proceeding initiated by an individual, private citizen or a private organisation instead of by a public prosecutor who represents the State.
Private prosecutions are allowed in many jurisdictions under Common Law, but have become less frequent in modern times as most prosecutions are now handled by professional public prosecutors instead of private individuals who retain (or are themselves) barristers.