Samoa stigmata claim – Defamation case goes Supreme Court


The Samoa Observer Newspaper has filed a statement of defense against a $700,000 lawsuit for defamation brought against it by former EFKS Reverend Opapo Soanai Oeti and his daughter, Toaipuapuaga  (Toa) Patrick.

The matter was called before the Supreme Court last week.

The lawsuit for defamation concerns the publication by the Samoa Observer of a letter to the editor titled “Stop this madness” by “M.R” on 29 March 2017.

According to the statement of claim, the plaintiffs allege that the letter is defamatory.

As a result, they are asking for general damages of $400,000, aggravated damages of $200,000, punitive damages of $100,000 and costs.

The letter in question was an online comment, in response to a story titled ”Church stigmata row deepens.”

In April this year the letter was the subject of a search warrant served on the Samoa Observer by  the Police.

Toa’s family had complained to police claiming the letter defamatory and untrue.

But the editor, Mata’afa Keni Lesa, denied this.

“I think certainly it sets a very dangerous precedent for this country, in terms of media freedom,” he said.

“I mean, what happens next? I mean anyone who writes a letter or anything that they don’t like, and then they can go to the police, who then turn up with a search warrant, and that to me is very concerning.”

Since Easter in 2015, Toaipuapuaga Patrick, has maintained she is carrying the marks of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, also commonly referred to as the stigmata.



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News category: Asia Pacific.

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