13 Mar 2007

Samoan government yet to hear from US over charges against two Samoan citizens

9:51 am on 13 March 2007

Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, says United States authorities do not understand Samoa's adoption system.

The Prime Minister says he has yet to receive a request. from the United States for the extradition of two Samoan citizens charged by the US federal government with conspiracy and fraud relating to the adoption of 80 children from Samoa by a US agency, Focus on Children.

The Samoa Observer said checks made last week with the Ministry of Police, Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration confirmed that they too have not heard from US authorities.

The US has issued international warrants of arrest for Tagaloa Ieti and Julie Tuiletufuga, both Samoan citizens, who were both involved with FOC at certain stages of the agency's presence in Samoa.

Tagaloa ran FOC's nanny house at Ululoloa with his wife.

Mrs Tuiletufuga's house was a previous nanny house but she parted company with FOC some years ago to take up a job elsewhere.

FOC's lawyer Patrick Fepulea'i says he can't understand why US authorities have laid charges against her.

Mr Fepulea'i said a US State Department lawyer visited Samoa last year with a US Attorney and everything about the adoption process in Samoa was explained to them.

He rejects claims that Samoan babies were sold to US couples, or that any were smuggled out of the country.