20 Oct 2004

American Samoa Senate committee reiterates intention to sue Attorney-General

11:19 am on 20 October 2004

American Samoa's Senate Select Investigative Committee will not petition the court for contempt citations against government officials who did not comply with SSIC subpoenas for hearings in the last two weeks.

Instead it will target only Attorney General Fiti Sunia in its pending court action.

Attorney for the SSIC, Robert Maez, says that the witnesses were only heeding the advice of the Attorney General not to comply with the SSIC subpoenas so their failure to show up at the hearings was not intentional on their part.

He says the SSIC is challenging a legal opinion by the Attorney-General on the legality of supbonaes issued after the completion of all regular sessions of the 28th legislature.

It is the Attorney-general's opinion that the period following the official closing of a legislature is not within set time periods provided by law for a legislative committee to exercise its powers, and supboenas issued after the official closing of the Fono are invalid.

Mr Maez said that SSIC chairman Senator Lualemaga Faoa has given the go ahead to file a legal challenge against that opinion and also petition the court to find the Attoney-General in contempt of the Senate for advising witnesses not to comply with the subpoenas.