Minister of Justice and Courts Administrations, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u, has dispelled rumours that this is not the first time evidence has gone missing from the halls of Justice.
Deputy Registrar, Ve’atauia Faatasi Puleiata said a gun that was submitted before Court as an exhibit and an evidence in the hearing of a criminal charge against a suspended Police Officer facing firearm charges, disappeared last month.
The matter had since been referred to Police for investigation and according to Fa’aolesa; the Police are still investigating the matter.
“This is the first time such a thing has happened, as far as I know,” the Minister said.
“It is my understanding that the Police are the ones who should be taking the evidence,” he said.
The Minister said having evidence disappear from the Judiciary was a serious matter.
“Evidence going missing under my watch concerns me especially when something like that happens."
“That is why I referred the matter to the police due to its seriousness.”
He reiterated that evidence is usually taken by the Police; however there were certain cases where the evidence was left under the Court’s possession.
“And due to this matter, the evidence is now stored in the C.E.O's office for safekeeping,” he told the Samoa Observer.
Fa’aolesa said nothing came out of the internal investigation launched by the Ministry of Justice when the gun disappeared.
Questions sent to the Police spokesperson, Superintendent Logoitino Filipo on the status of the case remains answered.
As reported earlier, Deputy Registrar Ve’atauia said: “The gun is a rifle and it’s a long gun. It’s impossible for anyone to remove it during the day.”
Last month, the Chief Executive Officer of M.J.C.A, Papali’i John Papali’i said he was extremely concerned about the missing evidence.
The Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration immediately launched an internal investigation to find out how the gun disappeared.
“Our investigation was not successful and given this is a crime, removing evidence entrusted to the Court, the Police was called in for a criminal investigation,” said Papali’i.
In the meantime, he told the Samoa Observer evidence is now locked away in a safe place with only one key.
“I have that key and it will not leave my sight."
“All the exhibits that come in will be handed over to me for safe keeping and to ensure this issue is not repeated,” he said.