4 Nov 2019

American Samoa official charged with attempted kidnapping

9:12 pm on 4 November 2019

American Samoa's chief immigration officer, Peseta Dennis Lutu, appeared in court last week charged with attempted kidnapping.

Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept, court

Photo: ikiryo/123RF

He is also charged with attempting to obstruct justice, attempting to tamper with a witness and attempting to obstruct government operations.

The charges stem from last year's case against the governor's chief of staff, Fiu Johnny Saelua, who pleaded no contest to an assault charge involving a young woman, who alleged he sexually abused her.

Fiu had originally been charged with first degree sexual assualt but the more serious charge was dismissed when the prosecution said it had no witnesses to call.

It is alleged Peseta was behind an attempt to forcibly remove Fiu's victim and her husband from the territory.

He was ordered to surrender his passport, and not have contact with alleged victims and witnesses.

Two of the witnesses are under the defendant's supervision, as they are supervisors in the Immigration Office.

The judge directed that contact with the two witnesses be limited only to work and not involve anything related to the case.