15 Nov 2010

American Samoan senator fined for contempt of court

1:58 pm on 15 November 2010

An American Samoan senator has been found in contempt of court for failing to appear for a land case in the High Court.

Associate Justice Lyle Richmond has held Senator Fonoti Tafa'ifa in contempt and fined her 300 US dollars.

Fonoti was subpoenaed to appear at a hearing for a land case involving the sale and lease of communal land that she, as the head chief or sa'o of her family, controlled.

A member of the Fonoti clan, Esther Wall, is seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent any leases or renewal of leases to be executed by Fonoti until a family meeting is called.

Esther Wall's attorney Marie Alailima told the court that Fonoti is selling and leasing communal land without the communal family's consent and she has received more than one million US dollars in proceeds that have not been accounted for.

Fonoti said she could not make it to court as she had a bible reading engagement for church.