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Taxi driver charged for allegedly assaulting his best friend in Tafuna

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A taxi driver from Tafuna accused of assaulting a fellow taxi driver was arrested over the weekend

Orepa Valaau, 46, made his initial appearance in District Court this week where he entered a ‘not guilty’ plea to third degree assault, second degree property damage, and public peace disturbance.

He was represented by Assistant Public Defender, Ryan Anderson.

Valaau was released by Judge Elvis P. Patea on his own recognizance, subject to certain conditions. He is to remain law abiding, make all of his court appearances, and not make any direct or indirect contact with the victim.

The government claims that it was around 5:12p.m last Saturday that a woman from Tafuna contacted police for assistance regarding her husband, who was assaulted by a man she identified as their friend, Orepa.

According to the caller, her husband was inside their vehicle — parked in front of a Tafuna store — while she was inside shopping. She said when she came out, her husband was standing outside of their vehicle with several people surrounding him. He was bleeding from the mouth and nose.

She said when she asked her husband what happened, he refused to tell her; and it was another male who was standing with her husband who told her that it was the defendant.

An eyewitness told police he didn’t know how the fight escalated. All he saw was, after a brief verbal argument, the defendant threw multiple punches at the victim’s face.

The victim refused to explain to police what happened. He said he did not want to press charges against Orepa because he’s his best friend. However, the victim’s wife told police she wants her husband’s friend arrested and charged.

Valaau is scheduled for a pretrial conference July 25th.