Murder convict Uimaitua Papali'i jailed for life

A man has been jailed for life for the murder of another man from Sapapali'i Savai'i on New Year's Day this year.

Uimaitua Papali'i was found guilty of the murder of Tavita Mauafu by a panel of assessors on Thursday afternoon.  

Shortly after he was found guilty, Papali'i was sentenced to life imprisonment by Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala - Warren. 

Prosecutor was Attorney General's Office lawyer, Lucymaria Sio Ofoia assisted by Fuifui Ioane. 

Lawyer Leota Tima Leavai represented Papali'i. 

Papali'i had given evidence earlier on his account of what happened on the night of the incident.  

He told the Court that he was beaten up by the deceased twice and this provoked him to react and go after him.  

Papali'i claimed that he was only trying to defend himself from being punched by the deceased when the knife plunged into his throat and eventually killing him.

“I was angry at him because they (Tavita and Moale) had attacked me from behind without me knowing,” said Papali’i. 

The Court heard that Papali’i had waited for the men on a road in the village with a log that is four foot long. 

He approached the men from behind and hit Moale on the head but Tavita was not hurt.  

Papali’i was then chased by Tavita and other men from the village where he managed to escape and found refuge at his cousin’s house. 

It was at his cousin’s house where his wounds were being treated than he went to the kitchen and found a knife used by the family to cut pudding. 

“I took the knife from the kitchen and I went to his (Tavita’s) house because I wanted to hurt him back for what he did to me,” insisted Papali’i. 

“I did not intend to kill him, I’m not used to that kind of violence. 

“I took the back door (from my cousin’s house) that led to Tavita’s house. 

“I saw inside his house he was sitting next to a window while Papali’i Faalele was lying asleep. 

“I opened the door (to Tavita’s house) and he approached me and landed a punch on the back of my head and that time I had my hands up to defend myself. 

“That was when the knife got him and I saw him falling down. It was self-defense, I was defending myself from the enemy.” 

Papali’i showed the panel of assessors and the Judge how he had held his hands up in front of his face with the knife on one of his hand. 

The defendant’s account of what happened on the night of the incident clashed with that of several other witnesses called by the prosecution. 

Papali’i claimed that the deceased’s actions provoked him to react and go after to hurt him. 

The prosecution witnesses called earlier this week alleged that it was the defendant who kept going after the deceased to beat him over a dispute during a drinking session.

Ofoia put it to Papali’i that he intended to kill the deceased when he decided to take a knife.

But Papali’i denied this. 

He insisted he was trying to defend himself. 

Unconvinced with the response, Ofoia told Papali’i that what actually happened is that he plunged the knife in the deceased’s throat. 

“It doesn’t make sense to say that you went there to Tavita’s house with a knife and you were defending yourself,” said the lawyer. 

“How can you say you were trying to save yourself when you’re the one that went with a knife to his house. 

“If you recall what the pathologist said in his evidence about the injury on the neck of Tavita and the knife used it required moderate force to be able to plunge the knife through his windpipe. 

“You went to his house with the intention to kill him and you intended to injure him in a way that it will cause his death.” 

Papali’i continued to deny the questions put to him. 

“It was the force from Tavita that injured him when he tried to punch me and the knife got him,” he said. 

The lawyer then referred to a question statement conducted by Police and Papali’i after the incident. 

She read out that in his response to the Police question on what happened, Papali’i stated that "I went into his house then I put to him the knife and then I walked away". 

But Papali’I insisted that the statement was not accurate as he was responding to a question from police. 

“No your Honour, I was defending myself from the enemy and it was the force from Tavita that caused the injury on him,” he added. 

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