A woman who was wrongfully arrested by the Police and detained for five days over the manhunt for “Ole Palemia” has broken her silence about the ordeal.
Speaking to the Sunday Samoan, the woman who prefers to be known only as “Stoira” strongly denied that she is the face behind Samoa’s “most wanted blogger.”
She expressed disappointment that the Police should have done their investigation properly.
She said she was locked up while her elderly father, a brother with special needs and her 7-year-old child were by themselves at home with no one there to take care for them.
According to Stoira, the Deputy Registrar at the Court told her she was being charged under the Crimes Act 2013 for “Harassment utilising means of electronic communication.”
The charge could land a person in jail for a term not exceeding five years.
“The Registrar told me on Thursday that I’ve been charged with that one,” she said.
“The fact is - I did not know who is ‘O LE PALEMIA’ both on facebook and the blog and to my understanding even though I’m charged with this, but this is all related to trying to find out who is ‘O LE PALEMIA’.
“The ‘O LE PALEMIA’ facebook is one of the new pages on social media network Facebook, while the blog ‘O LE PALEMIA’ dates back two to three years ago.
“I have no idea who’s the person behind the blog, and I’m not ‘O LE PALEMIA’.
Storia said that she was told the charge stems from her sharing a post of ‘O LE PALEMIA’ on her Facebook Page.
“The article is about what Su’a (Police Spokesperson) said about the case of Opapo and his daughter and the investigation on the ‘O LE PALEMIA’ blog.
“The thing is I just shared it on my page...I mean I didn’t swear or say anything that might harm anyone on Facebook.
“Others made comments on what I shared, I did comment as well but as I’ve mentioned before I didn’t call anyone bad names, (or said any) bad words.
“The truth is ‘they assumed that I am ‘O LE PALEMIA’,” she said.
She dubbed the Police’s actions as “sad.”
“The police arrested me from my home on Wednesday afternoon...like one o’clock in the afternoon,” she said.
“Then we came, when we got to the Police Station they told me to wait for the Registrar. Past one...two...three...nearly four o’clock then that’s when they questioned me.”
She claims she was then told to remain in custody following the questioning because the Registrar had left.
“On Thursday at eleven o’clock in the morning I was called by Fa’atasi (the Registrar) that I’ll be released with conditions to sign in every Friday and my case will be called on the 9th May.
“When I was collecting my stuff at the front desk, one police officer called me that the Registrar wanted to see me.
“Fa’atasi the Registrar told me that police requested to further remand me in custody because they hadn’t completed their investigations.
“I’m like, what (more) investigations they need, I didn’t do anything wrong, did I kill someone or threaten someone on Facebook? The answer is no!
Stoira said that it was really hard to deal with the realization that she “didn’t do anything wrong”.
“I was really sad, confused especially I have an elderly father at home, a handicap brother and a seven year old son at home – they all need me, to feed, to look after...
“I was also trying to reach for a lawyer to help me out on Thursday but it was too late...sadly, I was taken to Tafa’igata on that Thursday.
“You know the end of the story, yes, I was held in custody from Wednesday until Monday this week.
“In my head, why are they treating me like this? Why should I be remanded in custody for this long holiday...while they still investigate the matter?
“They shouldn’t have held me in prison while they carried out their investigations whatever charges they wanted to charge me for?
“The ministry is questioning people but what about those police officers that swear and threaten people on Facebook and other social media. This is really sick.”
Stoira said the incident was traumatic.
“As a mother, I am very disappointed and sad at the same time. Why didn’t they investigate first before they held me under custody, I mean, a long holiday for every family to stay together.
“But I was in prison, I was wasting my time in there, with something I didn’t do and totally wrong to my understanding.
“I didn’t commit any crime, I didn’t kill someone, it’s like they held me for a serious reason.
When asked whether she will take legal action against the Polices, she said: “For now, I’m still trying to catch my breath, and focus on what’s next”.