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Bench warrant issued for an overstayer charged with assault and PPD

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — An overstayer charged with public peace disturbance and third degree assault failed to appear in District Court last Thursday for his pretrial conference.

As a result, District Court Judge Fiti Sunia has ordered that a bench warrant be issued for Kalava Sefo.

The charges against Sefo stem from an incident that occurred on Christmas Eve in Aua village, whereby he allegedly assaulted a 59-year-old man.

When Sefo, 31, first appeared in court last December, Judge Sunia inquired about his immigration status. The court was informed that Sefo's immigration ID expired May 9, 2018 and the renewal process could not move forward as Sefo owed money to the LBJ Medical Center.

Sefo, whose sponsor was not in court, was then released to the custody of the Immigration Office, with an order from Judge Sunia to have his immigration papers squared away, the next time he is scheduled to appear in court (which was last Thursday).

"By pretrial conference, you better either have an ID or proof that there is a renewal in process," Sunia told Sefo last December. "Don't come back and tell me you owe money and that's why you can't get your papers renewed."

When Sefo's case was called last week, Sefo was not present.

Judge Sunia was informed by an Immigration officer who was in court that Sefo's sponsor had "terminated sponsorship two weeks ago", and Immigration has a copy of the letter on file.

"Maybe we should bring the sponsor in," Judge Sunia said, before ordering the issuance of a bench warrant for Sefo.