14 Jan 2005

Opposition in Samoa voices surprise at legal appointment

7:19 am on 14 January 2005

Samoa's opposition leader, Le Mamea Ropati, is concerned that an MP's upcoming appointment to a judiciary position, was politically influenced.

Tagaloa Tuala Kerslake has just been appointed president of the Lands and Titles court, who rule on land and chiefly title disputes.

Tagaloa is a former lawyer who is scheduled to quit his job as a cabinet minister to take up the appointment later this month.

But Le Mamea Ropati says although he's friends with Mr Kerslake, the appointee should be someone who is better qualified, and more importantly, independent.

"The statutory figure is supposed to be the person most qualified, which should be either the CJ or chief justice, or a person of the supreme court. Tuala is neither. We do have people qualified for this position, but was quite surprised the minister has now been appointed to this post."

Le Mamea Ropati says the judicial system and politics needs to be totally separate.