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Former Samoa Minister Mulitalo Given Additional Sentence
Case moved to Supreme Court over compensation order

By Jasmine Netzler

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Nov. 26, 2012) – The Court of Appeal has ordered former Samoa Cabinet Minister, Mulitalo Siafausa Vui to reappear in the Supreme Court so he could be given another sentence in relation to 10 counts of indecent acts of which he was found guilty.

The order was made on Friday, when presiding Judges in the Court of Appeal, Justice Fisher, Justice Hammond, and Justice Salmon delivered their rulings on several matters they had dealt with last week.

In relation to Mulitalo, a former Minister of Health, the Court of Appeal set aside the sentence issued by Justice Pierre Slicer where Mulitalo was asked to pay WST$3,000 [US$1,271] to the victim.

The Office of the Attorney General appealed the sentence. It questioned whether it was appropriate to pay money to the victim.

In Justice Slicer’s ruling, he relied on Section 113 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

The Court of Appeal ruled that it appears from the wording of the questions that the word "sanction" is used to distinguish a compensation order from the punishments provided for the offences.

The Court of Appeal ruled that compensation orders are a feature of criminal law in a number of Commonwealth jurisdictions.

"So far as our experience goes, compensation orders made as part of a criminal sentencing process always rely on specific statutory authority. The issue then is whether the wide words used in section 113 allow such an order to be made."

The Court of Appeal ruled that the Section 113 of the Criminal Procedure of the Act "does not contain provisions for compensation."

As a result, the Court of Appeal ruled to remit the case to the Supreme Court with a direction to pass the proper sentence on the defendant.

"If it is of the opinion where the accused has been convicted, that the ruling was erroneous, and that the accused ought to have been acquitted, order that the conviction be set aside which order shall be deemed to be an acquittal. Or make such other order as justice requires."

"We set aside the order made under s113 and remit the case to the Supreme Court to pass such sentence as it considers appropriate in the light of this judgment, order accordingly."

Mulitalo was originally charged with 20 counts of indecent assault in 2009 from an incident involving a married woman who worked for him as general maintenance of his property and poultry farm at Siusega.

He denied the allegations and successfully avoided publication of his name after the Court granted suppression.

In his ruling, Justice Pierre Slicer said, "the Court is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the acts of exposure occurred, the statements or intimations made and the acts of masturbation as recounted by the complainant occurred and that such acts amounted to indecency."

Mulitalo was recently employed as one of two Commissioners of the Public Service Commission (PSC).

He has represented the electoral constituency of Faasaleleaga No 4 in Parliament for three consecutive terms and lost his seat after the 2010 general elections on bribery charges.

As the Minister of Health, Mulitalo spearheaded the dialysis unit at the National hospital. He unsuccessfully contested the seat in the past two elections before he was appointed as a Commissioner with the PSC.

The charges involved indecent exposure and a request for acts which the complainant felt obliged to perform on the defendant.

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