28 Jan 2003

American Samoan Senate accused of acting outside the law

6:12 pm on 28 January 2003

The lawyer representing the American Samoa Senator, Faamausili Pola, says the Senate is acting without regard for the territory's legal system after its latest moves to expel him.

Charles Ala'ilima says the Senate disregarded a high court ruling to reinstate Faamausili after he was ousted from office last year.

The High court ruled that Faamausili's ousting was unconstitutional because the Senate did not have a two thirds majority

He was ousted after some chiefs from his Manu'a district claimed that he was not properly elected according to Samoan tradition.

The Senate, which is appealing the high court ruling, held a second vote in order to secure a two thirds majority needed to expel Faamausili.

Mr Ala'ilima says the Senate has shown no respect for the territory's judiciary.

"They have acted as if the court order had no standing or had no impact on their actions at least at the beginning of this current session. They did not put him on the role of senators, they have not paid him and so I had to take some action in that regard to ensure they respect the court order."

Charles Ala'ilima says that the the three appeal court judges are expected to rule on the Senate's appeal within the next two days.

Meanwhile, in a separate move, the Senate is expected to vote on a resolution tomorrow to hold an explusion hearing over Faamausili.

If approved, Faamausili would be the first member of the American Samoa Legislature to face explusion charges.