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Court Discontinues Witness’ Evidence as Unreliable

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 24 MARCH 2023: District Court Judge Alalatoa Rosela Papali’i has discontinued the evidence of witness Vui Sione Masinamua as unreliable after he disappeared for three minutes from a live zoom connection from New Zealand this morning.

Under cross examination, Vui was giving evidence for the second day in the defamation case against US based Samoan woman Perkins Feagiai Headly.

Judge Papalii’s concern was that the witness left proceedings in the middle of a cross examination without a word and asked the Prosecutor if someone was supervising Vui from his end in New Zealand.

She then adjourned proceedings and asked the prosecutor to get Vui back.

When the Court resumed, Vui was asked why he left suddenly.

He said he did not leave but was still talking to the Court when he realised he could not see anyone but only his name on the screen.

Judge Papalii asked the Court IT personnel for an explanation who said it was a technical error on Vui’s side.

Defense counsel Faimalomatua Mathew Lemisio pointed out that Vui knew how crucial this case was and that his client had sacrificed 8 months to stay in Samoa for the case.

He then asked for the charges to be thrown out.

Judge Papalii said Vui’s disappearance from the middle of his evidence is against all principles of justice which is also noted in the Media Guide.

She then addressed the Court and said what happened, should not have happened.

“I am not happy that we have to stop proceedings, and I do not know what happened during the time he disappeared, it’s unreliable,” said Judge Papalii.

“Any other evidence from the witness would obviously be unreliable,” she said.

She then stopped cross examinations proceedings and ended Vui’s evidence.

Court Perkins1
Court Perkins1

The witness yesterday linked the accused, Perkins Feagiai Headly to two facebook pages that carried posts  deemed defamatory at the centre of the court case.

Evidence linked the accused to 2 facebook pages
Vui gave evidence via zoom yesterday from New Zealand but proceedings were postponed to today after he made what Judge Papalii called an “unsure identification” of the defendant from a group of people present in the courtroom yesterday.

He orally testified that Perkins is the admin of the Salote Facebook page and he knew this because Perkins, whom he is related to, told him in a text message.

Today, Vui was given another chance to identify the defendant which he did and noted by the Court.

However, during cross examination by defense counsel, certain issues were raised on why Vui did not submit to the police the text messages from Perkins that identified her as Salote.

Vui said the text messages are archived at the Le Foafoa Samoa Radio in Australia and he can get them if needed.

Faimalomatumua pointed out to Vui that the person behind the fake Facebook page Salote had revealed her true identity to him and that was crucial evidence for the police.

“Why did you not give that evidence to the police?” counsel asked.

Defense counsel also noted that Vui’s oral testimony yesterday said Perkins admitted to him that she was Salote were also not in his written statement.

Before the defense counsel continued his cross examination, Vui disappeared from the screen.

Before adjourning the matter, Judge Papalii informed counsels to have their submissions on legal matters that stemmed from the case by 31st March 2023.

She then adjourned the case to 3rd April 2023.