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    Tuesday, December 11, 2018-12:13:19A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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US drops charge against Samoan Associate minister Keil

SPRINGFIELD (Pacnews) — Federal charges have been dropped against an official of the Pacific island nation of Samoa who was accused of falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen, reports AP.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James England issued the ruling Friday after prosecutors moved to dismiss the case against Hans Joachim Keil without prejudice and in the “interest of justice.” There was no further explanation for the government’s motion.

Keil, 64, is a member of Samoa’s Parliament and serves as the nation’s associate minister of commerce, labor and industry.

His September arrest and detention in southwest Missouri had drawn protests from the Samoan government, which called the citizenship question a misunderstanding.

Samoa’s deputy Prime minister Misa Telefoni Retzlaff said at the time that Keil had “served with distinction in the United States Air Force, but the charges relate back to immigration matters in 1967, which had been considered settled.”

Keil was freed from the Greene County Jail a week after his 10September arrest but was ordered to remain in southwest Missouri. He was allowed earlier this week to return to Samoa on a $25,000 bond, which the judge on Friday ordered returned to him.

Keil had come to Missouri to try to repatriate a Samoan national who was working at the Dutton Family Theater in the southwestern music resort of Branson.

He presented a U.S. passport upon arriving 06 September in Los Angeles, then continued on his way to Missouri, according to the federal complaint.

During an interview with a federal agent 09 September, Keil identified himself as a U.S. citizen and presented a U.S. passport, according to the complaint. Prosecutors said Keil also presented a Samoan diplomatic passport as proof of his citizenship and status in Samoa.

Keil’s attorney, John Kizer of Springfield, issued a statement Friday saying the dismissal vindicates Keil’s claims that he is and has always been a U.S. citizen.

“Keil has honorably served this country in the military in a time of war,” Kizer said. “We regret he and his family had to suffer during the period of time he was incarcerated in the Greene County Jail and while this matter was pending for several months.”