25 April 2019, Apia Samoa. Suspended President of Samoa’s Lands and Titles Court Fepuleai Atilla Ropati has resigned following the Appeals Court decision to convict and fine him after pleading guilty to assaulting a might watchman at a Christmas party.
Fepuleai was convicted and fined $7,000 that included $2,000 reparation costs towards the complainant.
The incident occurred in 2017 when Fepulea’i assaulted a Ministry security guard during a staff end-of-year party. Saili Leota sustained serious injuries when he was struck over the head by Fepuleai with an empty beer bottle.
Fepulea’i pleaded guilty to assault but District Court Judge Papalii Rosella Viane discharged him without conviction on the 11th May, 2018.
The sentencing decision was appealed by the Office of the Attorney General.
Justice Robert Fisher of the Appeals Court overturned the discharge without conviction.
“The District Court Judge had under stated the seriousness of the offence and of the jury that resulted to the complainant,” said Justice Fisher.
“Therefore a conviction is unavoidable.”
Justice Fisher went on to say that the fundamental Courts is that the Judiciary should not be seen in the eyes of the public to be protecting one of their own.
“Judges are expected to make results to high standards and they must be held to account like all other members of the community.”
The conviction has resulted in the suspended President’s resignation.