Minister looks into alleged Prison plot

The Minister of Prisons and Correction Services, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, said he is reviewing the case of prisoners who have been removed from Tafa’igata Prison and placed under Police custody in Apia.

The prisoners are Tagaloasa Filipaina and Ovalegi Poli.

The two men have been identified by the Police as suspects in a failed mass prison break plot on the day when Cyclone Gita was heading towards Samoa.  

During a brief interview, the Minister told the Samoa Observer he wants to find out more details about the case before he could comment further.

He said he had just arrived in the country and that he did not have the full details.

 “The Prime Minister has already responded to media queries on this matter,” he said. 

“But I will look into it this matter.”

Pressed as to why he has not been informed by the Prisons in regards to the issues coming out of the prison, Tialavea said he was overseas. 

Last week, Police Superintendent and Media Spokesperson, Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo, confirmed that an investigation over claims that drugs, mainly marijuana, are being sold inside the Tafa’igata Prison, is underway. 

The investigation follows a failed plot by prisoners to stage a mass prison break while the nation was preparing for Tropical Cyclone Gita.

The plan was apparently concocted by the senior hierarchy among the prisoner population.

Police were tipped off and 90 officers turned up at the Prison.

“During the raid, marijuana joints and a stash of cash were discovered,” Auapa’au said. “The Police are now investigating the discovery.” 

When the news surfaced, Prime Minster Tuilaepa, who is also the Minister of Police, praised the Police response.

 “When a natural disaster is about to strike the country, often criminals find that this is the right time to strike too,” Tuilaepa said.  “However the Police have always acted in accordance with keeping the peace and the situation has been sorted.”

Tuilaepa said the threat was minimal. The Prime Minister said his priority at the time was to ensure the nation was prepared for the cyclone.

He revealed that when the issue was brought to his attention, as the Minister of Police, he instructed the Police to do what they needed to do. 

Asked about the possibility of the Prisons being transferred back under the umbrella of the Ministry of Police, Tuilaepa said: “The government’s policies will not change over this. We have to remember that with any changes, there are also teething problems.”

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