Something is wrong when a criminal stands up to His Honour the Chief Justice

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Let’s see. Something is terribly amiss in the make up of society when a notorious criminal and someone who has brought unimaginable shame to a country is allowed to openly question the highest authority in as far as the Judiciary is concerned.

It’s simple folks. Criminals belong in jail. 

Yes they have some rights but the simple truth is that once anyone breaks the law, they naturally forfeit a lot of those rights. 

If anything, it is that healthy fear that deters many people from breaking the law; it is what separates criminals from law-abiding citizens. 

That’s to say if you want your rights to be respected, obey the law and stay far, far away from trouble. 

You cannot hurt innocent members of the public by behaving like a thug, continue to break the law and expect people to respect you and give you five star treatment! 

It doesn’t work like that. Not in the real world anyway.

And yet something of that nature unfolded in the Supreme Court last week when notorious prison escapee and convicted rapist, Lauititi Tualima, appeared before Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu.

For those who don’t know – and there will be a few - Tualima is the prisoner who brought much shame to Samoa when he tied up a man and raped his wife at the Treesort a couples of years ago. His offending attracted international attention, which was not very flattering for Samoa. 

But he hasn’t stopped there. He has continued to escape from prison; causing more damage each time he skips jail. 

Now when he fronted before Court for his latest offending, he refused to cooperate with the Chief Justice. What’s worse is that a Court official said he appeared to have slapped the microphone in protest to an instruction from the Court.

So what happened? 

Well His Honour Patu had asked Tualima to enter a plea in relation to the charges against him. He refused. Instead he said he would not enter a plea until the Court guarantees that they (prisoners) will be treated better at Tafa’igata Prison.

“It’s not just me, there are six of us who are locked up in a jail block since 21 December last year until today,” he told the Court. “From then until now, we haven’t had a shower; we are being locked up naked with no food and drink. It smells really bad inside the room.”

Oh forgive us Tualima, but for the amount of hurt you have caused innocent members of this country, it could be a lot worse than that. Besides, as a notorious criminal, it is absolutely difficult to believe a single word out of his mouth. Why should we?

Now back in Court, Chief Justice Patu told Tualima that if what he said was true, then he should take it up to the Commissioner of Prisons because the Court does not interfere with how the Prison operates.

“Prison is under the Government’s control as well as the Commissioner of Prison, but it does not stop you from entering a plea to the charges against you,” Chief Justice Patu told the prisoner.

But Tualima wouldn’t have any of it. 

“Your Honour, this is not the first time this has happened. Even if the Court advises them, when we go back they will still continue with the mistreating of us prisoners. So I am seeking your help, have mercy on us.

“I know you have already instructed the prison guards, but I believe that if I do go ahead and enter a plea to the charges against me and the Court gives a decision, it won’t stop them (prison guards) from doing what they are doing.

“I am requesting you to please, if you can do something about the ill treatment of prisoners, especially those in the jail block.”

Then he goes on and issues an ultimatum:

“Unless you can assure me and provide proof that the prison officers will not treat us like this, then I will agree to give my plea to the charges against me.”

Wow. Again ladies and gentlemen, this is a prisoner being allowed to dictate his terms to the Chief Justice. This is absolutely pathetic. 

Somebody should have just dragged him out chuck him back in jail where he truly belongs.

We applaud Chief Justice Patu for his patience in trying to explain the system to him. 

But he didn’t have to, in our opinion. 

You see there are people you try to reason with and then there are those you shouldn’t waste your time on. Tualima is one them.

For hardened criminals like Tualima, maybe more time in that dark jail cell will finally sort him out. 

A year without a shower could do wonders? Or else there are plenty of frustrated Samoans who have had enough of being embarrassed, hurt and affected because of his actions that would love to give him a piece of their minds. 

Maybe it’s time to consider a new punishment for someone like him. 

Have a great week Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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