Top Prison official on ‘special leave’

The Acting Assistant Chief Executive Officer at Samoa Prisons and Corrections Services (S.P.C.S.), Levao Rosa So’oalo, has been placed on special leave.

This is to allow an investigation ordered by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi to be carried out.

This was confirmed by the Deputy Commissioner of S.P.C.S. Ulugia Niuia Aumua.

“She is placed on special leave pending the investigation by the Ombudsman,” he said.

He denied that she has been suspended.

“There is a big difference,” Ulugia told the Samoa Observer.  

 “The decision was made to protect the integrity of the Ministry.” 

He said the decision came from the Commissioner, Taitosaua Edward Winterstein, to allow the investigation to be carried out in a transparent manner.

“Special leave may come out of her annual leave but that I am not sure, however, it’s my understanding that our A.C.E.O. is being placed on leave with pay,” said Ulugia. 

Last week, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, ordered the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate serious allegations made against the management of prisons. 

Dated 27 September 2017, a copy of the letter has been obtained by the Samoa Observer. 

The complainant is Andrew S. Chong, a former employee of S.P.C.S, whose complaint targets the decisions made at the top level. 

Mr. Chong’s grievances are spelled out in a three-page letter to the Prime Minister, which prompted the order for an investigation. 

Highlighted in the three-page letter were allegations of marital affairs among the staff members.

He also pointed to the alleged conflict of interest between the Associate Minister So’oalo Mene and his wife who works as the Acting Assistant C.E.O. 

The letter also makes allegations against the Minister. 

But that’s not all.

Mr. Chong also accused senior management of hiring family members to do work at the prison.

He also claimed that a vehicle, licensed S.P.C.S. 09 was involved in a serious crash yet there was no disciplinary action taken against the driver.

There are further allegations that prisoners are used by senior staff members to do work and their homes, including a house at Falelauniu.

Efforts to get a comment from the A.C.E.O. has been unsuccessful as of press time. 

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