House Reps zeroed in on rights of gov officials implicated in the Kite Runner investigation
Fundamental rights of government officials implicated in the recent Kite Runner investigation report published by the media were at the center of the House hearing this morning.
Led by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Larry Sanitoa, the witnesses in attendance were Director of Homeland Security Samana Semo Ve’ave’a, Attorney General Fainuulelei Falefatu Alailima Utu, and Lead Investigator Jolene Kava.
Members of the House of Representatives expressed concerns over the leaking of the Kite Runner investigation report by Homeland Security OTICIDE Division. The 45-page investigation report by the OTICIDE pertains to the Kite Runner’s trip to Samoa in April this year, revealing it entered Samoa without a valid clearance.
The investigation report outlined recommendations to charge government officials criminally.
The investigation was launched following media reports out of Samoa, and the Samoa Police detained the Kite Runner over the lack of proper permits.
During the hearing, Sanitoa noted that the government officials implicated were designated to endorse the clearances.
He said just last week; the House approved close to a million dollars to pay liability civil suits against the government; hence, the concern on this matter, given the investigation has been published by the media naming the people implicated, yet the claims have not been proven in court.
Government officials accused were Tish Peau, Julia Paaga, and Customs Agent Sheehan Samuela Seigafo, who rubbished the claims against him as unfounded and inaccurate.
Director Samana informed the lawmakers the investigation report is not yet completed, and the information submitted to the AG’s office is their initial assessment, which had recommendations to charge the relevant parties criminally. He said the final decision lies with the AG’s office as they will conduct their investigation and determine whether criminal charges are warranted.
Attorney General Fainuulelei explained that ongoing investigations should be confidential until charges have been filed with the court, and then it become public records. He said it is premature to release the report when investigations are ongoing as this may jeopardize the investigation's integrity.
According to the AG, if these claims do not meet any criminal element, such matters can be dealt with administratively. Adding that any case filed with the court, the government has the burden to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Sanitoa queried how the report was leaked to the media, and Samana took responsibility and admitted that he released the investigation report to the press.