Don't harbour escapees — Police

The Ministry of Police has again issued a warning against harboring criminals with prison escapees Pati Chong Nee and Suitupe Faamoe still on the run.

Chong Nee dashed for freedom from the Tafaigata Prison in January this year and has managed to evade the authorities. Faamoe escaped from jail last month.

In a statement to the Samoa Observer, the Police said it is illegal for members of the public to assist escaped prisoners as it could result in their charging and imprisonment. 

“It is deemed that these escapees are being harbored and assisted by their close associates.

“We wish to advise that it is an offence for any person who aids, harbors, conceals, or shelters any person who has escaped from such custody.

“The Samoa Police Service will endeavor to lay charges against any person who knowingly harbors these escapees," the Police stated. 

Under the Crime Act section 144, a person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, who rescues any person from lawful custody, whether in a prison or another place, or who assists any person to escape from such custody, or who aids, harbours, conceals, or shelters any person who has escaped from such custody, knowing that person to have so escaped.

Minister of Prison and Correction Services, Tialavea Tinisio Hunt, said they are doing all they can within their resources to track down the two escaped inmates. 

Asked about a reward offered to the public in return for information, Tialavea said it's out of the question. 

“That will never happen! It will send out the wrong message and our people with take advantage of that,” he said. 

He said once the prisoners are relocated to Tanumalala it will be impossible for them to escape.

The $25 million new prison will open on June 30, 2019 and inmates will relocate the next day. 

“And this will solve the current problems that we have of prisoners breaking out of jail,” said Tialavea in an earlier interview. 

Police have appealed to the public not to approach Chong Nee as he is considered armed and dangerous. 

He is 25 years old and is from the villages of Aleisa and Vaitele Fou and was serving time for theft and burglary. 

Members of the public have been urged to contact any nearby Police stations or the prisons main headquarters and the Ola Toe Fuataina at Tafaigata with the contact numbers: 23516, 22208 and 21008, concerning any information relating to the escaped prisoner – due to the severity of crimes he was charged with.

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