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Acting AG questions Police Chief’s statements to Samoa News

Roy Hall
“Your information as to the number of pending cases is incorrect,” Hall says

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Acting Attorney General, Roy Hall has dismissed reports by the Department of Public Safety Police Chief who said there are close to 200 criminal cases pending with the Attorney General’s office.

“Your information as to the number of pending cases is incorrect,” said veteran lawyer Hall.

During a phone interview, Chief Pouu’amea Tuaolo Supapo told Samoa News that it is “concerning” that a number of cases are pending prosecution with the AG’s office.

“There are not enough prosecutors at the AG’s office and also they are leaning towards their prosecution discretion in many of the police cases with their office,” she said.

“There is only one prosecutor working at the moment to prosecute our cases. I am concerned as Chief of Police. There are families seeking justice in their cases, while we are doing our job, we cannot say the same for the AG’s office, and we have no control over how they do their job,” said Supapo.

This did not sit well with Mr Hall who said that no “communication” was relayed to him by the Chief of Police.

“I have not received any communication from Chief of Police of DPS Pouuamea Tuaolo Supapo to verify your statement,” said Hall.

He further pointed out they have two criminal prosecutors.

“We have two prosecutors and three AAGs (Assistant Attorneys General) that also assist in managing the criminal calendar.”

Mr Hall further noted the Public Defender has two attorneys and four contract Public Defenders to assist with the handling of their cases.

He also cited COVID-19 as a challenge for their office.

“COVID created challenges for the prosecutors and the public defenders office, but since July of this year we have taken action with the court’s schedule to prosecute cases and setting jury trials.”

Mr Hall did not stop there and questioned the legitimacy of the comments rendered by the Chief of Police to Samoa News during the interview and said that it should have come from Supapo’s superiors.

“You should verify all statements or information from a higher source in the DPS, before you contact me,” said Mr Hall.

Samoa News notes that efforts were made to get comments directly with Deputy Police Commissioners Vaipuna Foifua Jr and Terry Letuli but calls and messages left with the Department of Public Safety were not returned as of press time.

The Acting AG also questioned credentials of the Samoa News Sub Editor that submitted questions for his review and comments and referenced the Code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists

“In particular the following: test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.

“Can you please provide me with your credentials and certifications for journalism and your press credentials from Samoa News or other news organizations?

“I will keep this information to verify that you are representing Samoa News as a journalist,” he concluded.