Plot suspects named

Murderer and drug criminal, Tagaloasa Filipaina and a relative, Ovalegi Poli, have been identified as two of the suspects behind the failed mass prison break out last Friday.

This was confirmed by Police Superintendent, Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo, yesterday.

He told the Samoa Observer that the suspects have been removed from the Tafa’igata Prison. 

They are under custody of the Police.

 ‘They are both convicted drug defendants,” said Auapaau. “As for your question on where the suspects are held, I will not answer that. I cannot give out that type of information, it is classified.”

Auapa’au said the decision was made following the foiled escape attempt last week.

 “Look, all I can say is that the suspects are no longer at the Tafaigata Prison, they have been removed from the Prison for security reasons.” 

Last week, the Police received information from Prisons authority relating to a planned mass prison break involving a coordinated effort by the prisoner’s hierarchy. 

About 90 Police officers descended at the Prison. The Police also used the opportunity to raid the prison. 

“We conducted a raid inside the Prison and discovered more than 30 marijuana joints and stash of cash.”

Efforts to get direct comments from Minister of Prisons, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, on the prisoners behind the plot have been unsuccessful. 

Last month, Tialavea defended the decision to release Tagaloasa to attend his matai title bestowal ceremony during the festive season.

The Samoa Prisons and Corrections Services (S.P.C.S.) approved the release, the Samoa Observer was told.

The release came at a time when members of the public were outraged over a prison break involving four other prisoners, which resulted in a woman and her children attacked at Ululoloa. 

One of the prisoners remains at large. When concerns from members of the public about the Tagaloasa decision were put to the Minister, he downplayed them, saying the prisoner had shown enough proof that he has changed his ways.

 “Filipaina is a low risk prisoner,” he said. “We believe he has very minimal chances of reoffending.” 

The Samoa Observer put it to Tialavea that the Prison’s new Act signed into law in 2016 indicates that those who are convicted of murder, manslaughter, sexual connection, rape, incest, burglary and robbery are not eligible for special release, holiday release and weekend release. 

But Tialavea was adamant the prisoner in question posed no risk to the community.

“The release depends on the condition of the prisoner, good behavior and low risk (of reoffending)."

 “We only release the prisoners with special conditions, meaning they are at low risk of reoffending." 

“For Filipaina, he has been before the Parole Board five times already and he will appear again next month. He is a low risk prisoner.”

Bg pattern light


Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?