Senior HRPP Member Continues with Election Petition against Winning HRPP Candidate

Tafua Maluelue Tafua and his supporters outside Court. 📷 Loreta Kelemete SGN.

Monday 28 June 2021 Apia Samoa. A senior member of HRPP Tafua Maluelue Tafua who held the Aleipata Itupa i Lalo seat, is continuing with a petition against fellow HRPP Fiugalu Eteuati Eteuati.

Fiugalu was the youngest elected HRPP member following the April 9th general election who polled 807 votes to 777 for Tafua, the holder of a paramount chiefly title of the district.

Tafua was first to testify on Monday morning, confirming he did make a statement alleging Fiugalu had bribed voters in Samusu.

“I confirm that this is my statement and this is what I’ve written against the respondent based on some of the corrupt practices he had done,” Tafua said in court.

Represented by Muriel Lui, Tafua has a line-up of 20 witnesses to testify against the respondent.

Tauvela Tamiano, a female voter of Samusu Aleipata, testified that she was on her way to shop at her cousin’s store in Samusu when she came by a house, packed with about 40 people.

“I stopped and my cousin who owns the shop told me Fiugalu and his committee were having a meeting,” Tauvela told the Court.

“I stayed there to find out what the meeting was about, and I did receive $20 tala from Fiugalu and his committee on that day,” she added.

Fiugalu Eteuati Eteuati outside Court 28:6:2021 📷 Loreta Kelemete

On another occasion, Tauvela said she went to her neighbour’s house on the 8th of April, the night before the general election, and saw Fiugalu and some of his committee giving money to her neighbour.

“So my neighbour gave me $20 tala on that day, when Fiugalu and his committee left,” she added.

When cross examined by counsel for Fiugalu, Leiataualesa Jerry Brunt asked Tauvela if someone had told her to come to Court and testify. The witness responded, no.

“I came to testify because I was angry that my candidate whom I voted for did not win the general election,” she said.

“Na ‘ou sau ou te molimau ona ua ‘ou ita e le’i malo la’u sui tauva na ‘ou palota iai.”

Another witness for the petitioner, Laneselota Andy echoed the same reason when he was asked by Leitaualesa if someone had told him to come to Court and testify against Fiugalu.

The courtroom was packed with supporters of Tafua Maluelue Tafua. 📷 Loreta Kelemete.

“No, I came because I don’t like the candidate who won the general election, he is not from our village and I did not vote for him.”

“Na ou sau ou te molimau i lenei aso ona ou te ita i le sui tauva e pei ona manumalo, ona e lē o se tagata o le matou nu’u ma ou te le’i palota foi ia te ia.”

Laneselota told the Court he was walking home with two other untitled men from his village when a car stopped and a man by the name of Puipui Tauemu gave them four bottles of liquor (fagu malosi).

According to Laneselota, Tauemu lives at Ti’avea, and is a member of Fiugalu’s committee for the general election.

“He told us to remember to vote for the old man from Ti’avea, “Vaai le matou toeaina i Ti’avea e palota ai.”

When crossed examined, Leiataualesa asked the witness what he meant by Fiugalu is not from “kua” (from the village).

The witness responded he has not seen the winning candidate in their village or district (itumalo).

Leiataualesa put it to the witness that Tafua also lives in Apia, and he responded, “Yes but there are times that I see Tafua in our village, at kua“.

Fiugalu Eteuati has also filed a counter-petition against Tafua Maluelue, with 15 witnesses listed to take the stand.

Presiding over this petition are Justice Niava Mata Tuatagaloa and Justice Lesatele Rapi Va’ai.

With the number of witnesses for both sides, the case is expected to take up most of the week.

Marieta H Ilalio