17 May 2003

American Samoan suspension of representative to be heard by chief justice

9:15 am on 17 May 2003

The chief justice in American Samoa is to hear a complaint by representative, Muavaefaatasi Ae Ae Jr, over his suspension from the house.

Muavaefaatasi says he's glad he'll get to give his side of the story, an opportunity he says was denied to him by his colleagues when they voted in February to suspend him without pay.

The attorney for the defendants, house Speaker Matagi Ray McMoore and member of the House, Charles Alailima, also says he's happy that the court didn't grant the plaintiff a judgement based on a review of filings alone but has decided to hear the case.

Alailima says the House has the constitutional authority to remove a member for making disparaging and disrespectful remarks and Muavaefaatasi's calling members dogs necessitated the vote to suspend him.

Muavaefaatasi says another member of the House uttered the dog reference first.

The chief justice, Michael Kruse, says the issue of free and protected speech is an important one for the court to hear.

The case is set for next Thursday.