Court dismisses charges against 19 Samoan church ministers
Apia: Tax-related charges against 19 more Ministers of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (CCCS) were dismissed by the District Court yesterday.
The decision delivered by Judge Leota Raymond Schuster, followed an application by the Ministry of Revenue, to withdraw two charges against each defendant on the basis that there was no evidence.
Each church minister was charged with two counts of withholding tax and failure to file tax.
Defence lawyer, Alex Su’a, then filed an application to have the charges against the church ministers dismissed. Judge Leota granted the application and dismissed the charges.
The ministers are: Aila Patea, Ailepata Leuta, Anoai Faletutulu, Falenuu Tagataese, Faletaua Faaea, Feata Perelini, Fuatai Simanu, Iaeva Mitai, Iakina Alefaio, Iosefa Uilelea, Kelekolio Sanele, Keneti Leaupepe, Kereta Fuafiva, Letone Uili, Toalua Perese, Siaosi Moananu, Samuelu Limuaa, Nomeneta Simanu and Motuga Matagi.
Outside Court, CCCS chairperson Reverend Elder Tunumoso Iosia, acknowledged God’s guidance and thanked the church.
“We had given this before the Lord and he is the one supreme Judge whom we answer to,” said Reverend Elder Tunumoso.
This is the second group of CCCS church ministers facing tax charges, who have had the charges against them, dismissed.
The first group of 20 church ministers had their case dismissed in July when prosecution failed to identify the defendants as Ministers of religion.