9 Jan 2007

American Samoa Congressman concerned by federal court rulings

11:08 am on 9 January 2007

The American Samoa Congressman, Faleomavaega Eni, says he has serious concerns about two recent US Federal Court decisions and their implications on the lack of a federal district court in American Samoa.

Two men appealed their conviction arguing that the High Court of American Samoa was the proper venue to hear the federal charges, not the federal courts.

However, the appeal courts in San Francisco and Washington D.C. disagreed saying that the federal district court has exclusive jurisdiction to hear federal crimes that occurred in American Samoa.

Faleomavaega says he is concerned because local residents are physically taken from Pago Pago for prosecution in federal courts in Hawaii and Washington D.C., because the territory does not have a federal court presence.

Faleomavaega says the people of American Samoa are at risk of not receiving a fair trial.