18 Mar 2009

Trial begins in Samoa for church minister facing sex charges

11:54 am on 18 March 2009

The trial of a church minister in Samoa charged with one count of attempted rape and one of indecent assault is now underway.

The police are calling four witnesses including the 17 year-old victim and her mother.

The 61 year old accused, Reverend Lealofi Oto, was serving at Sa'anapu uta Congregational Christian Church when the incident occurred in July last year.

The victim testified in a closed court hearing on Monday after the presiding judge, Vui Clarence Nelson, accepted the prosecution's application for the victim's evidence not to be made public.

Meanwhile, the mother of the victim in her evidence told the court that she lied to the police in her statement when she said the accused and his family had made a formal traditional apology after the incident.

The witness said she did so because she wanted the complaint against the accused to be withdrawn.