17 Aug 2021

Samoa bringing in NZ judges to avoid conflicts of interest

6:16 am on 17 August 2021

A lawyer for Samoa's ruling FAST party says New Zealand judges have been appointed to assist the bench due to all of Samoa's Supreme Court judges being the targets in the cases they'll be overseeing.

Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu said the contempt applications against the former prime minister, the attorney general, the former speaker and the clerk of parliament are in respect of all six Supreme Court judges.

She said none of the judges can hear the cases.

Samoa's Supreme Court

Samoa's Supreme Court Photo: RNZ Pacific / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Taulapapa said the five New Zealand judges have no conflicts of interest.

"And it's important to note that four of them have been members of our Court of Appeal in the past decade so they actually come with a great deal, not only of experience in New Zealand as highly esteemed and respected judges, but for example Justice Fisher has also determined matters in our Supreme Court as well."

Taulapapa said there are pending additional citations for the new judges to hear because of the ongoing comments in the media by former prime minister Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.

The judges, Justices Robert Fisher, Peter Blanchard, Rhys Harrison, Rodney Hansen and Raynor Asher have been appointed for two year terms.