27 Apr 2009

Samoan matai cleared of theft charges

1:57 pm on 27 April 2009

A senior Samoan public servant holding a chiefly matai title, Papalii John Afele Taimalelagi, has escaped a jail sentence after eight counts of theft against him were dismissed in the District Court.

Papalii John, who is an assistant chief executive officer in the Justice Ministry, was accused by heirs of the Malietoa Natuitasina clan of stealing about 7,000 US dollars from the family's local bank account.

But the judge ruled the police did not provide evidence to prove the accused was fraudulently making withdrawals.

Judge Vaepule says the police should have presented evidence to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.

The complainant who is one of the heirs of the Malietoa Natuitasina extended family, Uale Papalii Taimalelagi, is considering filing an appeal against the verdict.