10 Apr 2003

American Samoa Representatives ask court to dismiss Muavaefaatasi reinstatement claim

6:41 am on 10 April 2003

The Speaker and members of American Samoa's House of Representatives have filed a motion in the territory's High Court to dismiss a complaint by Representative Muavaefaatasi over his suspension from the House.

Muavaefaatasi was suspended in early February for allegedly referring to some members as dogs.

He has asked the court to reinstate him claiming his suspension was unconstitutional.

The Speaker and the House called for the dismissal of his claim, saying the House had the constitutional power to suspend him for what they say was a malicious and unjustifiable attack on the name, honour and reputation of the House and its members.

They say remedies were offered to Muavaefaatasi to purge his contemptuous and disorderly behaviour and to provide assurances that such actions would not occur again.

Muavaefaatasi claims his statements are protected constitutional free speech.