Mystery remains over child in Police cell settlement

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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The officers, who did not wished to be named for fear of repercussion, told the Samoa Observer the Commanding Officer in charge is still on duty.

The officers, who did not wished to be named for fear of repercussion, told the Samoa Observer the Commanding Officer in charge is still on duty. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

The Government has yet to disclose how much it paid to settle the case involving a three-year-old boy who was locked in a Police cell with his father back in 2014.

Last year, Attorney General Lemalu Herman Retzlaff, in a letter dated 4 May 2017, sent to Woodroffe Lawyers in Auckland, offered $100,000 settlement. 

Up until now, attempts to confirm the final settlement amount have been unsuccessful.

Some members of the Police force are questioning how much was paid.

The officers, who did not wished to be named for fear of repercussion, told the Samoa Observer the Commanding Officer in charge is still on duty.

They also claim that no disciplinary action has been taken. 

Emails sent since January with latest email last month to the Attorney General Lemalu, Commissioner of Police, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil have not been responded to.

The whether the offer remained $100,000 or if it was more.

Emails also sent pertaining to action taken against the Commanding Officer were also not responded to. 

As reported earlier, the father was taken in for a traffic violation but was not given the chance to make arrangements for his son to be taken away.

Both were immediately locked in a cell.

The A.G.’s letter from last year was in response to two separate pieces of correspondence from the family’s counsel, Leuluali’i Olinda Woodroffe, who made an offer to the Attorney General’s office. 

“The plaintiff requests an open letter of apology from the Government of Samoa to the child’s parents, to the child personally for his mistreatment and false imprisonment by the Police,” Leuluaialii wrote.  

“The plaintiff invites the Government to make a compensation payment to the child of $100,000 tala and legal costs of $25,000 tala. 

“The plaintiff invites the Government to give an assurance to members of the public the child’s case will be instrumental in the Government, providing legislative compliance of Samoa in relation to interrogation child protection standards, as raised by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund in its report as mentioned above.” 

Lemalu, in his letter, noted they sought instructions from their client and the counter offer is listed here. 

“The defendant appreciates the effects of the event which took place on September 2016 [sic] and that a formal apology can be made by the current Commissioner of Police to the plaintiff and his family under the auspices of the confidential and without prejudice mediation process. 

“The defendant offers a settlement repayment of $75,000 for the child and $25,000 for legal costs. 

“The defendant also requests that 50 percent of the settlement payment be held on trust for the child until he attains the maturity age.”

Lemalu further urged the plaintiff’s attorney to discuss with the clients and said they hoped to hear from them before or by the date set for mediation. 

The Attorney General clarified to the plaintiff’s attorney that if the client was agreeable to the terms set out, they would seek “Cabinet’s approval before the money is paid out and that the plaintiff’s claim would then be withdrawn and dismissed.” 

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