No More Media Photos Of Mulifanua Dead Baby’s Mother

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  • District Court Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papalii presiding over the court proceedings for the young mother whose dead baby was abandoned at the Mulifanua wharf
    District Court Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papalii presiding over the court proceedings for the young mother whose dead baby was abandoned at the Mulifanua wharf

Deidre Fanene

 

The photo of the young mother of a dead baby whose body was found at the Mulifanua Wharf recently is not to made public.

District Court Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papalii issued a court order on Tuesday on the ban.

The mother had already pleaded guilty to concealing the dead body.

Judge Alalatoa also granted application by the defence counsel Su’a Helene Wallwork, for restrictions during sentencing and the handed down at Tuasivi where her parents live in Savaii.

Judge Alalatoa inform counsels that the defendant will have to undergo psychological assessment with Dr. Julia Ioane before she could hand down her decision.

The defendant’s one on one session with Dr. Ioane will be held next week Monday.

On the application for the matter to be close court or partly close court Su’a did not dispute the fact that there is a public interest on the case, however, there is actually no public interest issue on the case itself.

“The publication of the guilty plea and the courts sentencing or judgment is acceptable but we respectfully seek an order for a close court on the sentencing submissions, summary of facts and the outcome that comes from the psychological assessment,” she said.

“On the reason being your honor, yes there is a public interest on this case, but there is actually no public interest issue on the case itself.

“The public interest is merely an interest on the human factor of the case.”

She added there is no violence involved in this particular case and also there is no other victim involved in fact the only victim in this particular case is the defendant herself and her still born baby.

“The defendant’s wellbeing is an issue and the court and justice system do have a duty to protect that so far,” she said.

“The amount of public interest in this case since it came out, the amount of public comment that were made on social media, the number of times the stories have been shared around social media and the quality of those public comments, there have been some very vicious comments made online which amounted to cyber bullying against the defendant.”

Rexona Titi of the prosecution did not object to the application by defense counsel given that the judgment or the sentencing should be made public.

She also requested that the court’s decision on the application by defense be put on hold until the outcome of the psychological assessment is made available.

Judge Alalatoa adjourned the matter to the 17th of December to deliver her ruling on the application by defense to have the matter close court.

But she also ordered for the defendant’s photo not to be used for any news article.

“In regards to publication of this matter the media can publish the plea that was entered today by the accused which is a guilty plea as well the date to which this matter has been adjourned to,” she added.

“From now on the media is not allowed or prohibited from publishing a photograph steel photos of live stream photos of the accused in any area, so whether it be the newspaper, TV or anything.”

Judge Alalatoa said, defense counsel has raised some very crucial points in regards to the defendant.

“This is a case of one of its kind and it has never come before this court and we all must sit back and take the humanitarian approach to matters that comes before this court,” she said.

“As defense counsel pointed out it is not because of any special treatment to any particular accused but we do know and from our Christian principles as well as cultural there should always be a sense of sensitivity to the accused of this nature not because we are trying to protect those who come before this court but we must look to other likely repercussions that may arise.

“I have certainly read online some of the most adverse comments that’s being published regarding this defendant without even the scent of empathy or sympathy to what she maybe going through.”

She said the court also must bear in mind the circumstances the defendant is going through.

“We may never know what is going on in the mind of this accused, which is why I have ordered a psychological assessment be carried out,” added Judge Alalatoa.

“It is easy for us to point finger and make fun of her subjecting her to all sorts of stigmatizing thoughts.

“But we must put ourselves in her shoes as a parent and as a defendant and then in fact try and examine how you would feel if that was you in her shoes so those are my orders today.

“No publication of her photo after she comes out of court. There are other photos that the media can use to catch the attention of  the public such as the court room or the court house but not the defendant.

“This matter is adjourned to the 17th of December for Judge Rosella to make her ruling on the application by defense to have the matter partly close court.”

 

 

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