Former Cabinet Minister, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, appeared in the District Court yesterday in relation to a criminal charge against him.
La’aulialemalietoa was joined by other officials of the nonu company including his wife, Heather, and business associates, Apulu Lance Polu and Tuitui Aiolupo.
Another defendant, Martin Schwalger, did not appear. The Court was told he was running late.
The defendants appeared before District Court Judge Fepulea’i Roma Ameperosa who ordered that they hand over their passports and travel documents to the Court as part of their bail conditions.
The charges are in relation to an on-going court case over a nonu company involving another senior member of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party and Associate Minister of Cabinet and Prime Minister, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga.
A lawyer from the Attorney General’s Office, Fatumanavaupolu Ofisa Tagaloa, informed the Court they have yet to finalise their charges. He requested an adjournment to allow more time for this to happen.
All five defendants are represented by lawyer, Semi Leung Wai.
The District Court was packed with supporters and several High Chiefs from the village of the former Minister.
Judge Fepulea’i has scheduled the matter to be re-mentioned on 1 October 2017.
As reported earlier, Acting Assistant Police Commissioner, Sala’a Moananu Salala’a, told the Samoa Observer the holding charges for La’auli and his wife are allegedly obtaining money by deception and Apulu was charged with obtaining a forged document.
“Each of the charges carries a maximum penalty, if convicted, and will serve up to seven years in jail.”
It’s unclear what charges that Schwalger and Aiolupo are facing.
Fatumanavaupolu told the Samoa Observer, the delay in finalizing the criminal charges are due to the normal procedure.
He said it’s the Police that conduct the investigation and file the charges. The A.G’s office reviews and makes amendments where necessary.
Outside of the Court House, a chief in support of La’auli spoke out loud and pledged their continuous support.
“We are behind you all the way,” he said.
“You need to be courageous in times of need and rely on God for assistance, not only for you, but also your wife and of course Apulu.”
La’auli the former Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, resigned from his ministerial portfolios last month. Apulu also stepped down as President of the Journalists Association of Samoa last month.