17 Sep 2003

American Samoan senator questions abuse probes

10:27 am on 17 September 2003

An American Samoan Senator is questioning the ability of the territory's Senate Investigative committee to arrest and bring to justice government officials accused of abusing public office.

Te'o Fuavai says everything, including evidence, should instead be turned over the FBI.

Mr Fuavai's comments come after the Senate last week voted unanimously to appoint Dr Lui Tuitele head of the epartment of Education.

Dr Tuitele is facing charges of misuse of US government funds and is to appear in the High Court.

Mr Fuavai says he refused to vote and left the Senate Chambers after unsuccessfully urging his colleagues to reconsider and delay the vote.

He says the Fono will be blamed if the court finds Dr Tuitele guilty of the charges and he says he reminds his colleagues the US government is closely monitoring the investigative hearings.