4 Oct 2008

American Samoa court rejects application for an independent counsel

10:05 am on 4 October 2008

The American Samoa High Court has thrown out the government's application to appoint an independent counsel to prosecute four employees and an ex employee of the Attorney General's office suspected of misappropriating public funds,.

In a ruling handed down yesterday the court said until the secretary of the Interior approves the independent prosecutor statute, there is no regulation establishing the office of Independent prosecutor, nor barring the Attorney General's Office from the prosecution of the four defendants, in the normal course.

The court referred to a 1951 secretarial order which basically states that any new law that pertains to the Judiciary must have the approval of the Secretary of the Interior before it can go into effect.

The presiding judges said that order was still in force and therefore the move to appoint a special prosecutor was ineffectual in its entirety.

The Deputy Attorney General says they will re-file charges against the four suspects.