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Senior Counsel calls out Prosecution’s incompetence

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 05 SEPTEMBER 2023: Senior counsel, Mauga Precious Chang did not mix words when she called out the Prosecutions incompetence in handling a case against her client Lameko Sakalia.

She not only informed Senior Justice Vui Clarence Nelson of such incompetence, but added that she had never come across such performance in all her years as a lawyer.

“This is the first time I have come across something like this in all my years as a lawyer,” she told the court.

Mauga’s frustration was based on Prosecutions application to reinstate the charge of attempted murder against her client on the day of the trial which was scheduled for 22 August 2023.

On top of that, Prosecution had already applied to the Court to withdraw the attempted murder charge and replace it with grievous bodily harm.

Sakalia was originally charged with attempted murder on 12 December 2022.

However, some time in that same month, Prosecution sought an adjournment so they could review their file and finalise the charges.

‘They had more than half a year to review their file but late in the morning of the hearing on the 22 August 2023, they approached my office and informed me they would withdraw the attempted murder charge and to proceed with the grievously bodily harm charge,” said Mauga.

The Prosecution advised that they had reviewed the file and there was not enough evidence to try Sakalia on the attempted murder charge so they applied to withdraw the attempted murder charge and replace it with grievously bodily harm.

However, the new procedure for filing applications to the Court requires the applicant to provide a written application and Prosecution was given 7 days to do just that.

As Mauga continued to voice her disappointment, Justice Nelson informed her that he was aware of the situation but Mauga continued to speak.

She said after 7 days, Prosecution returned with an incomplete application with only one paragraph of the grounds for their application and Justice Nelson informed them to cite the law in their application and gave them another chance to complete the application.

Prosecution however returned last week and asked the Court to withdraw the application and reinstate the attempted murder charge.

“We were ready to have the hearing then, and now my poor client has to wait for another hearing date. I want for the record to note this because it amounts to absolute incompetence of the Prosecution,” Mauga stated.

Justice Nelson agreed but unfortunately, he could not see any way out either and he said he will ensure that the matter will be dealt with sooner.