10 Apr 2017

American Samoa judge denies recusal call

6:57 am on 10 April 2017

A judge in American Samoa has declined to withdraw from presiding over a hearing for one of the four Public Safety officers at the Juvenile Detention Centre.

Public Defender, Douglas Fiaui, moved for District Court Judge, Fiti Sunia, to recuse himself from hearing arguments in the preliminary examination of officer, Olafau Wilson, who is facing 15 counts including 12 felony charges.

Mr Fiaui argued that Mr Sunia signed the arrest warrant for Wilson and the three other officers and therefore should step down from the hearing.

However Mr Sunia says the court already set regulations on guidelines to carry out administration of the Judicial Branch and he denied the motion.

High Court in Fagatogo, American Samoa

High Court in Fagatogo, American Samoa. Photo: noaa

He also ordered the court not to release charging documents because they contain names of juveniles.

The most serious of the felony charges against Mr Wilson include unlawful possession and unlawful distribution of crystal meth, or ice.

Other charges accuse Wilson of stealing, as well as aiding the escape of a prisoner and permitting an escape.

Police have also testified that the defendant took two juveniles out of the centre to get money from their family to purchase drugs.