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Court Report

compiled by Samoa News staff


Escaped inmate, Joe Togitogi, has been charged with one count of escape from confinement, a felony crime punishable by not less than 5 years in jail, a fine of $5,000 or both. Togitogi made his initial appearance in District Court on Monday.

Following a bench trial in February this year, Togitogi was found guilty of second-degree assault as a result of an incident, which occurred about two years ago. And on Apr. 4 he was sentenced to five years in prison.

However, in the early evening hours of Apr. 16, the government alleges the defendant escaped from prison. The defendant was apprehended later that evening in Nu’uuli, where he was seen fighting with neighborhood kids next to a store. The defendant’s next court appearance for the new charge is next month.


A 32-year old man from Samoa who is on a 30-day visitor’s permit to American Samoa appeared in District Court on Monday and was charged with misdemeanor public peace disturbance as a result of an incident over the weekend in Nu’uuli.

According to the government’s case, a store clerk contacted police for assistance due to a drunken man, later identified as the defendant Fa’ataualofa Fa’afeutalo, inside the store trying to buy beer but it was already after 10p.m, which is the time that local law prohibits the selling of beer at stores.

The store clerk told police the defendant was causing trouble inside the store especially when he was told that he couldn’t buy beer after 10p.m.  When police made contact with the defendant who was still in the parking lot, police detected a strong odor of alcohol on the defendant’s breath and his speech was also slurred when speaking with the officers.

During Monday’s hearing, District Court Judge Fiti A. Sunia told the defendant that allowing him to enter American Samoa under a visitor’s permit does not give him the right to cause trouble inside a store when beer can no longer be sold in accordance with local law.

Sunia also told the defendant he must fully understand the opportunity given him to enter American Samoa is a golden one. Additionally, entering American Samoa doesn’t give him the right to break any laws in the territory.

The judge asked an Immigration Officer, who is always present at these hearings, when the defendant entered the territory. The court was told that he entered on Sept. 29 on a 30-day permit, which is valid until Oct. 28.

While the court has set another hearing for Oct. 26, the Immigration Officer informed Sunia that just because of this case, it doesn’t mean Immigration would accept the defendant’s request to extend his permit for another 30-days. The defendant was released on his own recognizance.


A 24-year old man is accused of trying to stab a male relative with a machete early this week in Nu’uuli. The defendant, Vitale Vaima’a made his initial appearance in District Court yesterday where he was charged with one count each of private peace disturbance and assault in the third degree — both misdemeanors. Each count is punishable by up to 15-days in prison, a fine of $300 or both, according to court documents.

According to court information, police received a call for assistance Monday morning from a relative — the victim — who told police Vaima’a was causing trouble. The relative had sought refuge at another family’s home to await police.

Upon arrival at the scene, the relative told police that Vaima’a got into an argument over chores and Vitale approached the victim and tried to stab the victim twice with a machete.

During yesterday’s initial appearance the defendant had a bruised eye and he told the court that he got into a fight with the victim. The defendant according to information in the court yesterday resides in another village.

While released on his own recognizance, the court ordered the defendant to keep peace in the family and stay out of trouble, during the time his case is with the court. He returns later this month for another hearing.

Samoa News reporters Fili Sagapolutele and Ausage Fausia contributed to this report.