4 May 2009

Samoa Court defers sentencing decision over NZ based lawyer

10:43 am on 4 May 2009

The District Court in Samoa has deferred sentencing for two weeks, in the case of a New Zealand based Samoan lawyer who was found guilty last week of one count of obstructing the police and one count of insulting and abusive words

The accused, Iuni Sapolu, who is a criminal lawyer in the Supreme Court in New Zealand, has asked the court for justice to be served in making a fair decision.

Speaking in the offenders dock during her mitigating submission, the lawyer was in tears when she described how the police entered her family's property during a raid last September without a search warrant.

The raid found cannabis plants on the family's freehold property at Fa'ato'ia village.

The 54 year old lawyer has alleged her privacy and human rights were violated when she was arrested and kept in police custody for one night.

She was also asked during a prisoner parade to strip herself in front of several police officers at the police head-quarters cell.

Sapolu is facing a serious charge of obstructing the police which carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail.

However the defence lawyer has reminded the court of the offender's respected career and urged the court to consider the consequences and the repercussions the accused may face.

The court has been asked to apply section 104 of the Criminal Procedure Act where the accused can be discharged without conviction.