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Defense in Defamation case claims Government trying to silence people

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 23 MARCH 2023: The defense in the defamation case against US based Samoan woman Perkins Feagiai Headly, is claiming that the Government is trying to silence those who speak out against the Government.

Perkins who is also known as Salote Syrah Tautai, is facing 25 charges of electronic assault via social media.

She arrived in Samoa in August 2022 and has been detained by a Court order so she can stand trial on defamatory allegations made against the Prime Minister and other leaders of the Faatuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi Party.

In the first day of the trial yesterday, defense counsel Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio pointed out to police witness Tapuala Levasa Oloaupu, that the purpose of the defamation charges against his client was to “silence those who speak out against the Government.”

Tapuala is noted as the person who initiated the defamation case against Perkins by way of alerting the Faatuatua I le Atua Samoa ua Tasi Party Secretary, Va’aaoao Alofipo.

Tapuala admitted in his evidence that he was the one that forwarded Perkins, also known as Salote Syrah Tauvao’s facebook comments against Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa and other Cabinet Ministers to Va’aaoao.

Faimalomatumua then asked Tapuala if he was a supporter of FAST.

“Exercising of my human rights was performed during the general election,” said Tapuala.

“The answer is very simple, yes or no,” pushed Faimalomatua.

Tapuala stood his ground and said he did not understand why the defense counsel was trying to link the issue to politics.

Counsel responded that Tapuala is the cause of the court case and its purpose was the Government’s efforts to silence the people.

court tapuala
court tapuala

Police witness, Tapuala Levasa Oloapu was not aware he was being photographed.

Witness unaware he was being photographed
In August 2022, Tapuala and several members of FAST were invited to attend the Independence celebrations by the Samoan community in Carson, California.

On the return flight to Samoa, he was unaware that someone was taking his photo inside the aircraft. Three of these photos of Tapuala (taken from different angles), were presented in Court and he was only aware of them when they were sent to him by a friend via Messenger.

Perkins and her brother, Aliimalemanu were on the same flight and Tapuala only found out about Perkins when she was introduced to him at the Fiji airport as they waited for the connecting flight to Samoa.

According to Tapuala, Perkins wanted to take a photo with him and his family, and that photo was posted on Perkins Facebook page.

However, a friend forwarded the photo to Tapuala with a note to be cautious about Perkins. Tapuala then started to check on Perkins and came across the comments made against FAST and some of its members including himself. He then alerted the FAST Secretary, Vaaaoao.

Perkins also known as Salote Syrah Tautai is facing 25 charges of defamation and 13 of those charges were read out yesterday in Court.

Two of 8 police witnesses have already given evidence and the case continues.