1 Oct 2016

Judge says on-trial govt minister should not have left Samoa

11:31 am on 1 October 2016

A Supreme Court judge in Samoa has raised concerns about the way an associate government minister who is standing trial for fraud and forgery left the country without seeking approval.

The lawyer for Associate Minister of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet told the court that Peseta Vaifou Tevaga has been called to accompany the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, to attend Tuvalu's independence celebration.

Peseta Vaifou Tevaga'ena

Associate Minister, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga'ena Photo: RNZI/ Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

But the presiding judge, Mata Keli Tuatagaloa, told Leulua'ialii Olinda Woodroofe must have known about court procedures and her client should not have left the jurisdiction before the trial was complete.

The case was initially scheduled for Friday for lawyers to present final submissions.

Despite the judge considering issuing a warrant of arrest, the case was adjourned until Monday.

Peseta was due to arrive back in Samoa last night.

Leulua'ialii has apologised and said she takes full responsibility her client's non appearance.