6 May 2009

A senior opposition MP in Samoa found guilty for contempt of court

8:18 am on 6 May 2009

The Supreme Court in Samoa has found the Samoa Democratic United Party, or SDUP, leader, Asiata Sale'imoa Va'ai, guilty of one count of contempt of court while a second charge has been dismissed.

The senior opposition MP is guilty of a charge relating to his letter to the editor published in the Samoa Observer newspaper two years ago which has been found to have impugned the integrity and impartiality of the Chief Justice.

The presiding judge, Murray Kellam, in his decision says he is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that parts of the defendant's letter were calculated to detract from the authority and influence of judicial determinations.

The presiding judge is also says part of Asiata's letter was calculated to impair the confidence of the people in the court's judgments.

The final submissions by a state lawyer and the MP's defence counsel will be heard later this week before the court passes sentence against the SDUP leader.