Hunt for international fugitive hits snag

By Deidre Fanene 20 February 2017, 12:00AM

The Police’s bid to bring back a prisoner who escaped from Tafa’igata Prison and managed to skip the country has hit a snag.

While they have relocated Valufitu Fiu Uolilo in Australia, it turns out the convict is an Australian citizen and has applied to an Australian Court that he not be sent back to Samoa serve the rest of his jail sentence.

Uolilo was jailed for causing actual bodily harm and being armed with a dangerous weapon.

Police Spokesperson, Su’a Muliaga Tiumalu, confirmed the latest development.

“I know Police Commissioner Fuiavailili Egon Keil told the media that Valufitu Uolilo has been captured,” he said. 

“However Uolilo had made a plea to the Court in Australia which we understand has been granted by the Court.” 

Su’a could not explain how the Court in Australia could stop a Samoan fugitive from being sent back to Samoa to serve the rest of his term. 

 “All we know at this stage is that the prisoner is an Australian citizen and so at the moment he cannot be deported from Australia to Samoa.

“According to reports from the Transitional Crimes Unit, an appeal has already been made to the Court with regards to this issue.

“So if the appeal is successful then this man will be brought back to the country to answer to the accusations against him.”

It was not possible to get a comment from the Australian government at press time. 

Last year, Police Commissioner Fuiavailili Egon Keil announced that Uolilo had been found by Australian authorities and was scheduled to be sent back.

 “He is going through a legal process in Australia and they have to decide whether to deport him or keep him there,” said Fuiavailili at the time. 

Fuiavailili told the Samoa Observer then that the process could take months or years.

He said the Transnational Crimes Unit had been in contact with the Australian Federal Police about the matter.

“I don’t know why someone would want to keep a criminal there especially an escaped prisoner, I would rather have that person out of my country as well but that’s their opinion. They are going to do what they need to do.

 “We did the best we could with the resources we have. We are just going to hang tight until we hear anything else from Australia.”

Fuiavailili also thanked the Australian Government and their law enforcement for playing their part and said they are still cooperating with them on the legal framework.

By Deidre Fanene 20 February 2017, 12:00AM

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