Two men appeared in the Supreme Court today facing charges of motor manslaughter after their matter was elevated from the District Court.
In November last year the Fire and Emergency Services (FESA) and the Samoa Police (SPS) responded to a fatal car accident that had claimed the life of a passenger and left 3 more with serious injuries at Motootua hospital.
The pulenuu of Leulumoega-Tuai Talosagatuufaatasi Faatagi and Mikaele Maiava appeared in Court today, but the matter was adjourned to the 16th of March for prosecution to finalise charges.
Both defendants are on bail, with strict conditions of where they would reside.
Mikaele Maiava is to reside at Moamoa where he works, and report to the police office in Apia every Friday.
The Court took issue with where Talosagatuufaatasi could reside while on bail noting that most of the prosecution witnesses are from Leulumoega, where the accident happened.
“Where else can he reside?”
Defense counsel Afa Lesa said that, “the difficulty is that, because he is the pulenuu of the village.”
“He may be the pulenuu but he is a defendant, and there are likely prosecution witnesses from there, so to protect the integrity of the Court proceedings you need to reside somewhere else.”
Talosagatuufaatasi told the court that he will reside at Manono where his wife’s family is.
Police Commissioner Su’a Fuiavailiili Egon had said at the time of the accident that the two vehicles involved were allegedly racing.
“Drivers lost control resulting in the death of a passenger in one of the cars. Drivers and passengers of both vehicles were transported to hospital for treatment,” said Su’a at the time.
In a previous case before Samoa’s Supreme Court police brought similar charges against businessman Keiji Li, whose vehicle exploded when it crashed into a bus killing an elderly man.
Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke had outlined the minimum requirements to satisfy motor manslaughter at the time.
He said that in order to prove the charge of manslaughter, the prosecution must prove the following ingredients of the offence beyond reasonable doubt:
“That the accused was in charge of or had under his control or operates anything whatever which in the absence of precaution or care may endanger human life; and
“That the accused had a legal duty to take reasonable precautions against and to use reasonable care to avoid the danger; and
“That the accused breached that legal duty in that the breach by omission or neglect is a major departure from the standard of care expected of a reasonable person to whom that legal duty applies in those circumstances; and
“The omission or neglect caused the death of the deceased.”