16 Apr 2007

Appeal by former American Samoan prison warder dismissed

11:10 am on 16 April 2007

The Honolulu federal district court has denied an appeal by a former American Samoan prison warder to dismiss the case against him because of a lack of jurisdiction.

Mika Kelemete had argued that the High Court of American Samoa has exclusive jurisdiction and venue over offenses committed in the territory.

He also argued that local law grants the High Court of American Samoa exclusive jurisdiction to try individuals for federal crimes.

Honolulu magistrate, David Alan Ezra, ruled that the Ninth Circuit court's decision in the Kil Soo Lee case, supported the right of the Honolulu federal district court to try Mr Kelemete's case.

The Kil Soo Lee ruling held that the District Court of Hawaii has jurisdiction to try individuals for federal crimes committed in American Samoa, rejecting the argument that the High Court of American Samoa has exclusive jurisdiction to try federal crimes.