Suspended Assistant Police Commissioner rejects allegations
A suspended Assistant Police Commissioner, Samoa Mulinu’u, has strongly denied any wrongdoing in relation to the conduct of his duty.
He has denied that he abused his power in relation to a complaint from a mechanic lodged with the Police. He has also refuted claims he tampered with evidence in the case against former Director of the National Prosecution Office (N.P.O.). Instead he maintains he was merely doing his job.
Samoa was telling his side of the story during a Commission of Inquiry ordered by Cabinet to investigate his conduct in the handling of the criminal matter against Sililoto Peneueta and his involvement in allegedly tampering with witnesses in Mauga’s case.
Samoa and former Inspector Luatimu Samau are the subject of Inquiry.
It is headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Lesatele Rapi Vaai, with Tavui Annie Laumea and Namulau’ulu Sami Leota as members.
The lawyers assisting are Sefo Ainu’uū and Alesana Tumua of the Office of the Attorney General. Arthur Lesaā is representing Samoa while Luatimu Samau is standing in prose.
During Mulinuu’s testimony, he denied threatening to arrest Sililoto if he didn’t pay money to a relative of his who had lodged a complaint against him.
“Constable Solomona Mavaeao brought Sililoto in for questioning but because my office is located before the C.I.D. that is why he was brought into my office first,” Samoa said.
“I then told him of what Letoga wants that if he pays back the money, Letoa will withdraw his complaint. However, Sililoto wanted to take the matter to Court."
“However, during that time Sililoto told me he had told Letoga to give $5,000 tala to fix the car and then he will decide how much the car will cost. But I didn’t threaten him or say anything like that.”
He also took issue with the testimony by Sililoto noting some things said, were inaccurate.
“During his testimony in here, he told the Commission that the car in question belongs to a palagi man, but when I was talking to him, he said it was his car."
“What Sililoto is trying to do now is to put another person in there especially this palagi and he knows very well that Letoga is the kind of person who is not really good in English."
“This is what I noticed during Sililoto’s testimony; he is trying to put on an act to mislead Letoga.”
Asked about the allegations of tampering in the case involving Mauga Precious Chang, Mulinu’u said he wanted to find out what the case was about.
Hence the meeting with Mauga to discuss the charges against her.
“I realised that I needed to fully understand the matter and the charges that we would be charging Mauga with."
“I then asked the Police Commissioner if I could have a look at the files because he told me to accompany him."
“However, he (Commissioner) told me that he took the file to the A.G’s Office for a final review. He also said they had sought an opinion from a lawyer from New Zealand on whether there was enough evidence."
“He said the A.G. and the lawyer from New Zealand said there was enough evidence to charge Mauga.”
It was at that point, he asked the Commissioner for a copy of the file for his understanding of the case.
“He told me to call the Traffic Division and ask for the files with regards to the matter and that’s how I got the files.”
Upon receiving the file, Mulinu’u noted discrepancies.
“I saw that the photos and the statements taken by the taxi driver and the bus driver did not match,” he said.
Another issue that drew his attention, was the missing information on the report about the brakes of all three vehicles involved.
“I then informed the Commissioner about this and that it needed to be corrected before we could go see Mauga because we are talking about the Director of N.P.O. at the time."
“The Commissioner was furious when he found out about these mistakes but the file had already been reviewed by the A.G’s Office and they had already approved of it."
“He called out Magalo who conducted the investigation. He was swearing and he was really angry towards Magalo because of this, especially since the photos were different from the statements of the witnesses.”
Mulinu’u said the Police Commissioner told him to correct all the errors in the investigation report.
“But I didn’t tell Magalo to do another investigation. No, I quickly picked up on the errors when I saw the file."
“I questioned the bus driver when he was brought in and that’s when he said that it was him who crashed into the Tucson. The Tucson kind of bounced to the back and that he also crashed into the taxi that was in front of the Tucson."
“So the bus driver’s statement at this time matched the photographs that were taken. That’s when I asked Magalo why he didn’t do all of this during his investigation but Magalo didn’t reply."
“The taxi driver was also brought in and he said the same thing. So this time the bus driver and the taxi driver were telling the truth, they had changed their statements."
“That’s how I became involved with the investigation because I was basically following orders from my leader to make sure the errors were corrected. I didn’t tamper with the witnesses and the investigation."
“So it was those errors and the orders that I followed from the Commissioner that have landed me here in the Commission and cost me my job.”
Final submissions by both lawyers were presented before the Commission on Monday afternoon.