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Court Report

Translated by Samoa News staff


A man who used a Samoan “mele’i”, which is made of wood and used to husk coconuts, to assault his brother-in-law has been sentenced by the High Court to serve 20 months behind bars, as a condition for his 5-year probation after being convicted of second-degree assault.

Sentencing for Ivale Vanuvanu was handed down last Friday, after it had been continued from earlier this month, where the defendant had asked for leniency. The defendant claims to be very remorseful for his actions and wants another chance to return home to serve his family and become a better person. He also apologized to the victim, as well as his sister, who was in the court, and he asked for her forgiveness.

The sister told the court that her husband — the defendant’s brother-in-law and victim — has forgiven the defendant for what he did.

According to court information, the defendant had spanked the sister’s children while the brother-in-law was present and the brother-in-law got angry. Thereafter the defendant and the victim got into an argument, resulting in the defendant assaulting the victim.

At last Friday’s sentencing hearing, attorneys for the government and defense both sought a probative sentence, to include pre-trial confinement days, which are days the defendant has spent in the Territorial Correctional Facility, unable to post bail.

Before announcing sentence, Chief Justice Michael Kruse said that the most serious issue of his case is that the defendant “used the ‘mele’i’ to discipline his brother-in-law” who suffered injuries.

Other conditions set by the court for the 5-year probation, include the defendant to not make direct or indirect contact with the victim, and is prohibited from going to the victim’s home and must attend and complete anger management counseling. 

The court has set in May 2017 another hearing on this case. The defendant has been in custody since his arrest in May this year and has been unable to post bail.


The government and defense have reached a plea agreement in the case of defendant Mosegi Solia Jr., who is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrest.

The plea agreement was to have been read in the High Court last Thursday morning. However, it has been continued to tomorrow, as Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea wanted further clarification of the language in the plea agreement between the government and defense.

Solia is one of the four men accused in the November 2014 shooting at the Leone Police substation, but as the men were set to go on trial last week Tuesday, it was revealed that the defendants and the government had consented to a plea agreement in which the defendants pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

While three of the men were released from custody last week, Solia remained jailed because of the separate drug case, which was set for trial later this month. The drug charge stems from the time police tried to apprehend Solia in the police station shooting case.


A 25-year old man from Tafuna accused of assaulting another male inside a store early last week has been released on his own recognizance and was ordered by the District Court not to return to the store where the incident occured and is prohibited from making any direct or indirect contact with the victim.

According to court information, Fitu Lavea’i and the victim first got into a dispute early last week during a volleyball game. And when Lavea’i encountered the victim inside the store in Tafuna on Tuesday, that’s when the defendant walked up to the victim and punched him.

Lavea’i is charged with one count each of third degree assault and public peace disturbance — both misdemeanor charges.