30 Jun 2006

Samoa court hears evidence in second election petition

7:49 am on 30 June 2006

Samoa's Supreme Court has reserved its decision after hearing evidence and council's submissions on a second election petition.

The petition by former Opposition MP Patea Satini Epati has alleged the Electoral Commissioner had authorized the use of a new polling booth without notifying candidates other than the first respondent, MP Solalemalo Keneti Sio.

He also alleged the polling booth was not listed in his constituency of Sagaga Le Falefa, as well as one other booth did not have electoral rolls for scrutineers.

State lawyer Darrel Clarke representing the Electoral office said there was no misconduct recorded at the new polling booth which affected the taking of votes.

The State lawyer said mere suspicious or the appearance of the result having been affected was insufficient to warrant invalidating votes. Mr. Clarke told the court that it was up to the petitioner to produce proof.

But the petitioner's lawyer had argued that the onus of proof fell on the successful candidate to show that the results had not been affected.

The next case to be heard today is the petition by former Independent parliamentarian, Leanapapa Laki, against another ruling HRPP party MP, Pa'u Sefo Pa'u. Ends