The validity of an interim order instructing Malietoa Faamausili Moli not to proceed with a title bestowal is a key issue that has postponed a hearing in the contempt of court matter facing Malietoa and 16 matai from the village of Malie.
The District Court seeks to ascertain the validity of the interim order issued last year by the Lands and Titles Court Registrar.
Malietoa and 16 matai from Malie have been charged with contempt of court for carrying out the ceremonial conferment of the Malietoa title last year in August.
Malietoa and the matai appeared in court yesterday.
Prosecution contends that Malietoa and the matai violated a court directive by going ahead with the bestowal of the Malietoa title after they received an interim order not to proceed.
Attorney for the defendants Faualo Harry Schuster told reporters outside the courtroom that his clients “haven’t broken any laws even though there is an interim order.”
“There is a full bench decision that has not been overturned and then we have this interim order that was issued by the court under the Division of the Lands and Titles,” said Faualo.
“An interim order does not overrule a decision from the full bench even though it’s made under the law.
“As far as I know the law, the only way you can stop the decision is if you apply for a stay. Once the stay is granted then that decision cannot be put into effect until the appeal is out then the court of appeal will find out – whether it’s the Supreme Court or the Lands and Titles Court – the Appeals Court will say whether a lower court is correct or wrong. That’s when you will have a final decision. We have one decision that is in place and it has not been stayed as far as I know the record – and it has not been overturned.”
The matter has been adjourned to May.