Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has assured that his government is working to improve security at Tafa’igata Prison to avoid a repeat of an incident where a tourist couple was terrorised by an escape convict.
Tuilaepa, a former Minister of Tourism, gave the assurance during an interview with 60 Minutes Reporter, Liam Bartlett, aired in Australia on Sunday night.
Called “Paradise Lost,” the interview covered the story of Angie Jackson who was raped by prisoner Lauititi Tualima while her husband, Tommy Williams, watched on.
“Basic security, we are taking care of that now,” Tuilaepa responded to a question about erecting a decent fence at Tafa’igata Prison.
Asked if the reporting of the attack on the Jacksons at the Lupesina Tree Sort has hurt the tourism industry in Samoa, Tuilaepa said he wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Really I don’t know; remember this is one kind of attack that has happened.”
Pressed on a number of offenses Tualima had committed on multiple occasions where he had run away from the prison, Tuilaepa insisted that he was only interested in talking about the “one kind of attack.”
“He managed to escape on two more occasions,” Tuilaepa was told.
“No, no, no, no,” the Prime Minister responded. “I’m telling you that we are talking about one kind of attack…rape by a prisoner.”
Reminded that Tualima nearly killed a Chinese businessman during one of his escapes, Tuilaepa said: “No I’m saying there is only one prisoner who has done this attack, and he is now in the security cell.
“But he has escaped three times in the last eight months?” Mr. Bartlett asked.
“And he has been caught… three times,” Tuilaepa said.
The Prime Minister said what happened to the couple was very unfortunate.
“As I said, it’s just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Tuilaepa said.
“Any prison in the world, any prison fence anywhere in the world, if you have a prisoner who wants to get out, they could always find ways of getting out.”
But a simple solid fence would go a long way to start wouldn’t it?
“There were many times that we were told that we should build our prison to be like prisons of your country, you know like a hotel,” Tuilaepa said. “You must also remember that Samoa has just become a country that has just graduated out of the least developing country.
“You cannot just come and expect us to be like Australia”
But what does that have to do with basic security Prime Minister?
“Basic security, we are taking care of that now.”
We are not expecting you to put flat screen TV’s or coffee machines in their cells; we are just asking you to keep the prisoners inside, Mr. Bartlett asked the Prime Minister.
“That’s right, that our concern too,” Tuilaepa said, adding that Samoa is hopeful for more tourists from Australia to continue to visit.
On 60 Minutes, the Tasmanians recounted their ordeal — and their pursuit of justice — with reporter Liam Bartlett in a gut-wrenching.
They say that Samoa may be billed as an idyllic South Pacific tourist paradise, but a danger lurks beneath when its dysfunctional prison system cannot hold the likes of Tualima — the country’s most dangerous criminal — and others like him.
Angie and Tommy were lucky to escape with their lives last September when an on-the-run Tualima — who had escaped jail where he was serving a sentence for a litany of crimes including rape, assault and theft a month earlier — attacked.
At one stage, as the couple lay bound and helpless, Tualima asked Angie why she was crying.
“I was begging him not to hurt us, not to kill us,” Angie told Bartlett.
It was the last night of the couple’s honeymoon when the monster attacked. With a 6am flight to catch, they were catching a few hours sleep ahead of an early-morning taxi ride to the airport.
Angie woke about 2am and was heading to the shower when she saw a man crouched in a corner of the room in the darkness. He said he wanted money. Told them to be quiet, he would kill them. They complied.
And then they realised he had more than robbery on his mind.
“Then he started to tie Tom up, and he gagged Tom, and then put a jumper over his head,” Angie told Bartlett, voice halting, fighting the tears escaping down her face.
“Once Tom was completely helpless he came over to my side of the bed ... like I felt his hand touch my back, and he asked me why I was crying.
“I said because I was scared. And he tied my hands up. Just my hands.”
Haltingly, wiping tears she doesn’t want to escape, she continues.
“And ... um ... yeah. That’s when I was raped.”