Prisoners’ lawyer intervenes

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu 16 February 2018, 12:00AM

The lawyer representing two prisoners accused of masterminding the failed mass prison break last week has called on the Police to treat his clients “as human beings".

Lawyer Pa’u Tafaogalupe Mulitalo has asked the Police to give them “clothing and amenities for their state of wellbeing".

The request is made in a letter from Pa’u addressed to the Commissioner of Police, Fuiavailili Egon Keil. Dated Tuesday 13 February 2018, a copy of the letter has been obtained by the Weekend Observer.

Pa’u has questioned the Ministry of Police’s handling of the case of Tagaloasa Filipaina and relative, Ovaleni Poli Vaili, who have been removed from Tafaigata prison following the failed plot last week. 

“We ask with the greatest respect why our clients have been kept in custody without the right to know of their arrest and the reasons for being in Police custody and without humane treatment in not providing them with a mat and pillow to sleep on and cover sheet to keep them warm at night time,” Pa’u wrote.

“Mr. Tagaloasa Filipaina has a medical condition from being exposed to cold at night time and is feeling completely unwell where he is kept at present. 

“We ask to give these men humane treatment because they have rights to be represented under the Constitution of Samoa and under the international conventions regarding minimum standards and prisoner’s rights.” 

Pa’u further pointed out that Article 7 and 9 of our Constitution reaffirm that: 

7 Freedom from inhumane treatment- No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment; 

9 Right to a fair trial- (1) In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any charge against him for any offence, every person is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established under the law.

He further quoted the Constitution that “every person charged with an offense shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law; every person charged with an offence has the following minimum rights: to be informed promptly in a language which he understands and in detail of the nature and cause of the accusation against him”.

Pa’u sought the Commissioner’s “discretionary power to intervene in making sure that these men ought to be treated as human beings and to be provided with the necessary clothing and amenities for their state of wellbeing.”

Attempts to get a comment from the Commissioner of Police have not been successful. Emails have not been responded to at press time.

 Tagaloasa and Poli have been identified as two of the suspects behind the failed mass prison break last Friday.

Police Superintendent, Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo, told the Samoa Observer that the suspects have been removed from 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.”

The threat of a mass prison break was uncovered as the nation was being warned about Cyclone Gita which lashed the country last Friday night and Saturday morning.

About 90 Police officers descended at the Prison, where they conducted a raid finding marijuana and cash.

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu 16 February 2018, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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