Minister praised for decision

The Minister for Prison and Correction Services, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, has been praised for his decision to transfer two prisoners back to the Tafaigata prison. 

Criminals Tagaloasa Filipaina and Ovaleni Vaili have been held at the Central Police Station holding cell since February this year, after authorities suspected that they were behind a mass jail breakout plot as the country prepared for Cyclone Gita. 

But Tialavea recently said the Government does not have enough evidence to prove their involvement, and Ministry of Prison and Correction Services could not continue to provide services to the duo, away from the jail. 

Therefore, he has decided that the two criminals are transferred back to Tafaigata.

Lawyer Pa'u Tafaogalupe Mulitalo, who represented the two criminals before his license to practice was suspended, praised the Minister.

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He said credit should go to Tagaloasa Filipaina and Ovaleni Vaili and their families for their patience and tolerance. 

“It has been a long wait for the two men and their families to await this decision. Their legal team has been advocating for exactly the same grounds the Minister has relied upon for his decision, on the transfer of the two men to Tafaigata prison,” he said.

Pa’u, in an email to the Samoa Observer, made reference to a decision by Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson which ruled against the Police for holding the prisoners unlawfully at the Apia Police Station. 

“Secondly a motion was filed and served against the Attorney General, to argue that sections 16 and 34 of the Prisons and Corrections Act 2013 and the declaration by the Minister of Police Stations as 'prisons', was for temporary purposes only but not permanent arrangements. 

“It is great to see the Minister declaring that the police stations are just holding cells. It is not a jail and although it has been declared as a jail, it is for temporary holds. In this very regard and only on this occasion, the Minister has been well counselled by his advisers,” he added. 

Pa’u said the Minister “only on this occasion is a champion” and should be applauded for his intervention.

In relation to costs and damages, Pa’u said the prisoners should discuss that with Leaalifano Dr Iopu Tanielu, who is standing in for him until the suspension on his practicing license is lifted. 

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