The Police Commissioner, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil, has expressed frustrations about an old practice within the Force where officers were promoted not based on merit.
The Commissioner made the point when he fronted the Commission of Inquiry investigating suspended Assistant Commissioner Samoa Mulinu’u and former Police Inspector, Luatimu Samau.
Chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Lesatele Rapi Vaai, the Commission was appointed by Cabinet. Other members include Tavui Annie Laumea and Namulau’ulu Sami Leota. The government lawyers assisting the Commission are Sefo Ainu’ū and Alesana Tumua of the Office of the Attorney General’s Office.
Arthur Lesā is representing Samoa Mulinuu while Luatimu Samau is standing in prose.
The Commission is looking into the conduct of Samoa Mulinuu in handling of the criminal matter against Sililoto Peneueta and his involvement in the alleged tampering with witnesses in the District Court case of Police vs Mauga Precious Chang.
During the hearing, Tavu’i had questioned the Commissioner over the appointment of Samoa Mulinuu as an Assistant Commissioner.
Fuiavaili’ili explained that the decision was made by a Panel.
“He [Mulinuu] scored highly on his interview and he was recommended to Cabinet to be an Assistant Commissioner and then Cabinet endorsed it and of course the Head of States appointed him.”
According to Tavui, in 2001 Mulinu’u was a Sergeant; in 2003 he was an Inspector, 2012 he was a Senior Superintendent for the Criminal Investigation Division and in 2016 an Assistant Commissioner.
She questioned Fuiavaili’ili whether Mulinu’u sat any examination so he could be promoted. Fuiavaili’ili explained that he was not with the Police at the time.
“But from my understanding they promote some individuals without sitting any exams. I have also been told that individuals were being hired on without even going through the selection process, not going through the Police Academy as well."
“So we’ve got serious fractures in the Samoan police when it comes to hiring and promoting individuals.”
Fuiava said it’s an issue that became very apparent early when he joined the Force as the Commissioner.
“It’s something that is very dear to me because I do know there is a reason why there is a selection process. So for me there were a lot that needed to be done within the Ministry."
“I believe that there are some within the organization that should have never been holding these positions. Transparency is very important to me.”
Regarding the case of Mauga Precious Chang, Tavui pointed out that maybe it was the spirit of teamwork that led Samau to offer assistance to Superintendent Tuaena Lomano Paulo.
“It’s not like they are going to tamper or change anything,” Tavu’i said.
“The bus driver also lied and this is why Samau offered his assistance. It was not for the Precious Chang case but many drivers are riding around in the road and are not fit to drive."
“So what do you think between the two leaders Samau and Tuaena is there teamwork or not?” asked Tavui.
The Commissioner responded that there was absolutely no teamwork.
“I think it’s very unusual, very suspicious and out of the ordinary that this happened."
“I think it’s very important that you bring in other entities from outside the organization as a task force or to assist in certain circumstances and in this particular case I believe that this was not the case. It’s clear interference of a serious police investigation.”
Lesatele questioned the Commissioner if instructions were given for Mulinu’u to re-investigate the case.
The Commissioner could not recall.
“I’m not sure but I know there were at some point that somebody was saying there was not enough evidence and the case should be further investigated,” said Fuiavaili’ili.
Lesatele further questioned whether that was the opinion from the Attorney General’s Office?
“No. That is what I said. There is no more investigation in this matter because when the A.G. talked and okayed it and even the QC from New Zealand it sounds to me that the investigation is complete.”
But Lesatele pointed out to the Commissioner they have a report from Mulinu’u indicating that instructions came from him to re-investigate the case.
Fuiavaili’ili denied it.
Lawyer for Mulinu’u, Arthur Lesa, pointed to the evidence of Samoa and Samau the Police Commissioner instructed Mulinu’u to inform Mauga of the charges against her.
“He asked to review the files and then the files was provided to him. It was then that he pointed to you that there were some deficiency in the investigation then you instructed him to correct the deficiency. Do you recall this?” Mr. Lesa asked the witness.
Fuiavaili’ili said no. The Inquiry continues.