9 May 2017

American Samoan acquitted after 17 months jail

2:30 pm on 9 May 2017

An American Samoan man who spent 17 months in jail has now been acquitted of sex crimes.

High Court in Fagatogo, American Samoa

High Court in Fagatogo, American Samoa. Photo: noaa

A six-member jury found Siaosi Laulu not guilty of sexual abuse, sodomy, two counts of burglary, and unlawful restraint.

A woman who was 21 at the time the case against Laulu was filed, alleged that the defendant who lives in the same building, had entered her apartment while she was alone and sexually assaulted her.

Public Defender Douglas Fiaui, who represented Laulu, said his client was happy to walk away from court a free man and return to his wife and young children.

Mr Fiaui said the lack of physical evidence from the police led to the acquittal.

He said the whole case was based on statements by the alleged victim, her fiancee and friends and the police probe was biased towards the victim.

The Public Defender said the 17 months Laulu spent in pre-trial confinement could never be replaced.