20 Mar 2009

Supreme Court judge in Samoa disagrees with guilty verdict

3:02 pm on 20 March 2009

A Supreme Court judge in Samoa has disagreed with the guilty verdict by a panel of four assessors against a church minister

Lealofi Oto was charged with attempted rape and one count of indecent assault.

The presiding judge, Vui Clarence Nelson, has now invited legal submissions by counsels to further determine if the guilty verdict on the charge of attempted rape was in accordance with the evidence presented at the trial.

A state lawyer who prosecuted the case says any judge under the provisions of the court can disagree with a verdict by a panel of assessors and order further legal arguments.

Lealofi Oto had served as a church minister for a Congregational Christian Church and was charged by police last year after a 17 year old girl filed a complaint against him.