Lawyer accuses Police of “abuse of power”

By Sarafina Sanerivi 12 January 2017, 12:00AM

Lawyer Unasa Iuni Sapolu has blasted the behavior of the Police saying they abused their power in the handling of a case involving her 65-year-old brother, Eti Sapolu.

Eti was held by the Police on Wednesday with his 3-year-old daughter when he went in to find out about a matter he was asked to give evidence in. 

This happened after the police chased after Mr. Sapolu in his car all the way up to Apaula Heights at Lalovaea.

Apaula Heights is operated by Unasa and her children. The incident happened on 31 December 2016.

“We had some people over and it was a long night for all of us because the bars closed really late the previous night. So we were all sleeping,” Unasa said. 

“I woke up because I heard people talking and walked downstairs to see where the noise was coming from. 

“I met Eki on my way down and I asked him what happened and he mentioned something about the Police. So I told my nephew to go down and look and he went to Eki’s car to see if Malu was there.”

Malu is Eti’s 3-year-old daughter. 

 “My nephew saw that Malu was sleeping in the car, and he came back and told me that he saw police downstairs. 

“I was shocked, and so I told my nephew to take my brother to my Law Office, because I know that he is safe there. 

“It’s a Law office and it’s protected, and Police cannot raid a law office without any good reasons. You have to go to Court and get a search warrant in order for you to do that. 

“So I went over to the police and they told me that they were looking for Eki. I don’t know what the time was, and my whole household was woken up. 

“I asked them why they came over to my house and they said they came to look for my brother and that they were driving behind his car. 

“So I said to them, “why didn’t you stop him on the road? Why would you come all the way up here? 

“I told them to get off my property because this is a private property. But they said no. I asked them to show me a search warrant. And they said to me “Oh we can come here anytime we want.”

“I said excuse me? And they repeated saying that they can come to my property anytime they want. 

“At that time, I just wanted them to get off my back so I could go back and talk to my brother and asked him about what serious crime he has committed.”

Unasa said she wondered what was so serious that the Police would be tailing her brother.

 “I asked them why they were running after my brother and they said it was regarding a complaint by our other sister, Tasa. I asked them if it was an alleged breach of protection order, and they said yes.

 “I was shocked because I thought it was something very serious. So I said to them, “so you chased after this man and there was a baby inside the car?

 “They were chasing after my brother and his daughter. We never gave the police permission to come on our property. They didn’t have a search warrant as well, we had no idea what was going on.

“And I kept telling them to leave but they didn’t leave immediately.”

Unasa said she was even more shocked when she found two other policemen were already at the back of their house knocking on the door. 

 “What I didn’t know was that they already had two police officers, at the back of our house, and they started banging on the door at the back.

“And next to it was my son Eliota’s room and they woke him up. So I was down here, trying to tell them to leave, when some of them were already up there, searching the house, without a search warrant. They didn’t even ask for permission. 

“So Eliota talked to them and asked them to leave and it was the wrong time for them to come at our house because we were all sleeping. 

“Eli told them that if they ever think of showing up in people’s property without a search warrant, then it better be something serious like a murder or rape.

“Because they just showed up expecting to search your whole house without a search warrant.”

Unasa believes that it was unfair for the police to just show up at people’s property without a search warrant. 

 “You see the abuse of power here? And all you have is a mere right to protect yourself. 

“And that is something we really need to promote. And we really need to sell the idea that you have a right against the power which is being abused by these people. And these powers are not without boundaries, they’ve got boundaries. 

“You can’t just march up on someone’s property over a simple lousy problem.”

She went on to say that she was mostly disappointed by how the police officers made a big deal out of a “simple lousy problem.” 

“What I don’t get is why they would go all out, full-speed after a solo-father who was being alleged for destroying some properties belonging to their family at Vini-Fou. 

“What they need to do is to look at getting their priorities right. I mean there are other charges far more serious that they should’ve prioritized. 

“Is it more important to chase after a solo father who has raised two young children, all because Eki’s sister alleged in July last year that Eti cut down her plants. 

“Those plants are not hers. I personally believe that this matter was not thoroughly investigated.” 

The Police through their Media Spokesperson, Su’a Muliaga Tiumalu, defended the Police’s actions.

By Sarafina Sanerivi 12 January 2017, 12:00AM

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