Criminal investigation into Cabinet Minister nears end

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Attorney General, Lemalu Herman Retzlaff.

Attorney General, Lemalu Herman Retzlaff. (Photo: Samoa Observer / File)

Attorney General, Lemalu Herman Retzlaff has issued assurances that the “final advice will be presented in the upcoming weeks” in connection with the criminal investigation against a Cabinet Minister. 

The identity of the Minister has yet to be confirmed.

It was also revealed by Lemalu the Police have “recommended criminal charges against individuals” and not just the Cabinet Minister. However it’s unclear who those individuals are.  

Lemalu’s comments were in response to Samoa Observer questions. 

Last week, Assistant Police Commissioner Sala’a Moananu Sala’a confirmed to the  Samoa Observer that a Minister is accused of forgery and the file was handed over to the A.G.’s office for their review. 

Questions were sent last week to the Attorney General and his reply came via email yesterday afternoon. 

“I can confirm that an extensive investigation file related to this matter, was sent to the office of the Attorney General seeking legal advice. 

“The file already had recommended charges against individuals therein with a request for a review and for advice regarding those proposed charges. 

“Further police investigations have continued after the file was delivered so that full consideration of the evidence is ongoing,” said Lemalu. 

He also made it clear the Ministry of Police will make the final decision. 

“The advice will be tendered back to the Ministry of Police when all the evidence is considered. 

“Once they receive the advice it will then be the Ministry of Police's final decision as to whether to file charges, as their office is vested with the legal authority to bring criminal charges to Court. 

“This office can only advise and act as counsel but strictly speaking cannot itself bring criminal charges against individuals,” said Lemalu.

As reported earlier, the Acting Assistant Commissioner, has labeled their investigation as a “high profile criminal case. 

According to Sala’a, the investigation into the case has been in the pipeline for more than a year. 

Asked what criminal charges the Police recommended in their report, Sala’a said they only investigated the allegations. 

“The police did not recommend any criminal charges,” he said. “That task has been left up to the Attorney General’s office.”  

He further explained that “usually the Police conduct their investigation and then proceed to file charges against anyone accused.  

“However there are certain cases where we refer to the Attorney General’s office for their review and advice.  

“Like this case, it’s a high profile criminal case where a Cabinet Minister is involved.  

“Yes, we seek their review and advice to be assured that we have covered every loophole, if there are any.”  

According to Sala’a, they are now waiting for the Attorney General for the next move on this case.

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