21 Jun 2007

American Samoa's chief justice denies motion to amend charges against students

7:56 am on 21 June 2007

American Samoa's chief justice Michael Kruse has denied a government motion to amend charges against three of the four Samoan High Schools graduates accused of savagely beating Nicholas Afa last month.

Afa died last Monday while still in a coma in hospital as a result of the attack.

The government is now seeking to amend the charges from felony assault to murder in the second degree.

The deputy assistant Attorney General, Frederick O'Brien, prosecuting the case, says Justice Kruse stated in court yesterday that the defendants have a right to a preliminary examination in District Court for the new charges .

Mr O'Brien said the new charge against 17-year-old Louis Leasiolagi, 18-year-old Lennon Sagapolutele, and 18-year-old Gerry Mativa - will be filed shortly.

The case against the fourth defendant, 17-year old Tom Uiliata, is still in the District Court, where he is scheduled to

appear this afternoon for his preliminary examination, under the new charge of murder in the second degree.

All four are in custody.