By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – 10 MARCH 2022: The reinstatement of the former Head of the police prosecution team in the Attorney General’s office for over 10 years has raised a number of questions as to the consistency of the decision in keeping with the law.
This week, Kenneth Komiti was reinstated as police did not have “sufficient evidence” to proceed with criminal charges and police opted to settle the matter with disciplinary action.
The officer was reinstated but demoted from the rank of Inspector to Senior Sergeant.
Komiti was charged for altering police documents relating to a drink driving incident that is before the court.
It was the Judge and not the police who pointed out the inconsistency.
Judge order investigation
The Judge noted that the information on the police charge sheet was different from the information on the sheet already presented by police as court documents.
The charge against the accused was driving under the influence of alcohol and the information on court documents noted a high volume of alcohol against the accused.
However, the document presented by police during the court hearing at a later date had a very low amount of alcohol which prompted the Judge to question the difference.
The Police prosecutor did not have an answer and the Judge ordered an investigation into the matter.
Police Inspector admitted to altering documents
Kenneth admitted before the police investigation unit –PSU that he did alter the documents hence the difference.
According to the Acting Police Commissioner, Papalii Monalisa Keti, although Kenneth admitted to what he did, there was not sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal charge.
Fa’amanino Mafua’aga ole toe Fa’afaigalueina o Leoleo na Fa’amalolo ma isi Mataupu ile Talanoaga
Papalii clarified that there were two parts to the investigation; one was on the disciplinary side and one on the criminal side.
“The court has a process that an allegation must have sufficient evidence to support it before referring them to the prosecution, but in Kenneth’s case, there was a lot of missing evidence to support a criminal charge,” Papalii told Talamua.
She said they would pursue the criminal charge if there was enough evidence.
Ruling out a criminal charge, PSU turned to a disciplinary investigation and a report was given to then Acting Police Commissioner, Afamasaga Samuelu Afamasaga for his discretion.
Afamasaga decided to demote the officer and place him under probation.
When asked whether the decision to reinstate these officers could be an open door for other terminated officers to try and take advantage, Papalii said suspension and termination are two different things.
The difference was reference to a former officer who was terminated in 2019 who has since filed a legal complaint for unfair termination.
There is also a court case pending against a police woman on the charge of falsifying police documents which is similar to what Kenneth did and admitted to.
Another police officer who was reinstated late last year was Sergeant Khamtahn Stanley after he was acquitted of manslaughter.
That decision is being appealed by the Attorney General’s office through a private prosecution and the hearing is pending.