10 Mar 2017

Samoa election private prosecution case goes ahead

1:39 pm on 10 March 2017

A Samoa lawyer and unsuccessful candidate in last year's general election, Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio, is standing trial on bribery charges.

Tuala Ponifasio, left, at court with supporters

Tuala Ponifasio, left, at court with supporters Photo: RNZI/Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

The charges were brought in a private prosecution by five electors of the Gaga'emauga number one constituency.

The defendant is accused of giving money to some of the electors and if found guilty he may face a custodial sentence or a fine.

The private prosecution case, which started on Wednesday, has proceeded after the defendant had failed in his efforts to have the case withdrawn.

A reliable source said Tuala, and some of his relatives, had made a traditional apology or ifoga and presented fine mats and money to some of the constituency's chiefs but it was not accepted.

Meanwhile, the first two witnesses have testified that in a gathering before the election the defendant had given them money through a member of his election committee and offered to provide apple picking jobs in New Zealand for some of the voters.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs