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Woman wants ‘justice, truth’

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A woman convicted and fined $250 by the Family Court for uttering insulting words towards former Member of Parliament, Tuia Paepae, wants justice.

Fuatino Okabe, who is far from relieved at the outcome, was charged following a Police investigation into claims that she had made an insulting comment while at a volleyball game in her village, against the former Member of Parliament.

She was accused of referring to Tuia as a “laumei” (turtle). The complainant was the sister of the M.P. She was represented by lawyer, Maiava Visekota Peteru.

Asked for a comment, Maiava declined. But Mrs. Okabe is far from impressed.

She said she has always denied ever uttering such an insult. She was represented in Court by lawyer, Leuluaiali’i Tasi Malifa. Following the guilty verdict, Mrs. Okabe appealed the matter.

That appeal was heard in the Supreme Court on 15 November 2013 before Justice Vui Clarence Nelson. The Court at the time gave the following order.

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“Appeal allowed. Retrial Ordered, Defendant is remanded to appear before F.F court on 22/11/13. The fine already paid by the defendant ordered to be refunded forthwith”.

F.F. refers to the Fa’amasinoga Fesoasoani Court. On Tuesday 18th February this year, the matter was heard in the F.F Court before Judge Fa’amausili Tuilimu Brown.

Judge Fa’amausili ruled that the “case (is) dismissed”.

She further ordered that the matter be adjourned to the 25 of 7PM - BUFFET DINNER & SHOW - COST $50 Per Person March 2014 for costs to be paid by complainant.

But Mrs. Okabe wants to take the matter further.

“I want justice and the truth to come out,” she said. According to Mrs. Okabe, she has suffered extreme stress in relation to the matter and the allegations against her.

“They withdrew the charge and that is what I can’t understand,” she said. She said a lot of time has gone into this case.

“If they have decided to withdraw the charge, why now just after the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial?”

The woman claims that her name has been tainted as a result of the allegation. This is why she wants to understand why the sudden change in decision.

Mrs. Okabe said there was plenty of time for them to retract the allegation yet they did not. She was even found guilty of the charge and ordered to pay a fine of $250.

“That money I paid.”

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