13 Sep 2007

American Samoa Senate President questions FBI pursuit of local criminals

10:34 am on 13 September 2007

The President of American Samoa's Senate says the territory should be able to handle its own law enforcement.

Lolo Letalu Moliga's comments follow court appearances by the territory's Lt Governor and Senator Tulifua Lam Yuen in Honolulu and Los Angeles.

Both have been charged by the federal government with conspiracy, fraud, bribery and obstruction.

The government alleges the two conspired to split a large project for school furniture construction among companies they owned and a third company owned by another official.

Lolo says the inability of local authorities to carry out their responsibilities is the reason why outsiders are involved in the territory's affairs .

The Senate President says it is a shame that local residents had to just watch while outsiders came in and took over.

He says this has happened because the government has not fulfilled its responsibilities.