Attorney General's Office attacks Samoa's Chief Justice as political crisis deepens

Samoa’s deepening political crisis has taken yet another turn today after the Attorney General’s office launched an astounding attack on the country’s judiciary.

The Supreme Court hearing over whether the swearing in of the FAST party outside Parliament was legitimate has been adjourned to next week after the Attorney General’s office called for the withdrawal of all local judges, citing potential conflicts of interest.

In a media statement the Attorney General’s office said the actions of the judiciary is “concerning” after the Chief Justice tried to open the locked doors of parliament on Monday.

This came after the Supreme Court had ruled Parliament must sit on Monday but that was ignored by the Speaker of Parliament and incumbent Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi who ordered Parliament closed.

The Attorney General's office says the Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese may be in contempt of Parliament and “as the Chief Justice, the caretaker Speaker and staff are not subject to court jurisdiction as per the law”.

Another case which was to be heard by the Court of Appeal over the extra creation of a seat to meet the minimum ten per cent requirement of women in Parliament is also on hold until next week.

Again the Attorney General's office says local judges have a “potential conflict of interest and potential favouritism” as all four cases between the FAST party and HRPP have gone against HRPP.

In court today the Chief Justice asked on what authority the Attorney General’s office has to dictate the work of the judiciary.

He says the Supreme Court will rule next week over whether there is any merit to the recusal or withdrawal of judges.