Leiloa pleads guilty, Lemai and King Faipopo plead not guilty

A man has pleaded guilty to a plot to assassinate Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.

In the Supreme Court on Monday, Taualai Leiloa pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiracy to murder the Prime Minister.

Presiding Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala has ordered a pre-sentence report into Taualai's case.

Leiloa took the opportunity to enter a guilty plea in Court at the first opportunity. 

Co-defendants, Lemai Faioso Sione and Malele Paulo - better known as King Faipopo - pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy to murder the Prime Minister.

Leiloa represented himself. 

Lawyer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, represented the other co-defendants. Prosecuting is lawyer, Fuifui Ioane, of the Attorney General's Office. 

The charges follow Police allegations that between 30 April to 12 August of this year Lemai, Paulo, Taualai Leiloa conspired to murder Tuilaepa. 

Asked if he retained a lawyer, Leiloa responded: “No I don’t want a lawyer and I am ready to enter my plea". 

The Police allege there was a fourth member of the conspiracy, Talalelei Pauga - who is also known by the internet alias 'ninja' - and who was not in court on Monday. 

The Police have previously confirmed they have begun proceedings to extradite Pauga from Australia.

Taualai is out on bail and was ordered to come back to court on 30th September for sentencing before Justice Mata Keli Tuatagaloa.  

His bail conditions are that he has to sign at the Police station together with surrendering his travel documents. 

The prosecution has opposed bail for Lemai and Paulo. Their hearing is scheduled for 18th September 2019. 

Justice Tafaoimalo noted that main hearing date will be scheduled after a bail hearing. 

Leiloa's wife is from Lauli'i.

The village mayor, Fa'alogo Sasauli Moli, had earlier told the Samoa Observer the village decided to allow Leiloa to return after he was banished when his role in the alleged plot first came to light. 

The village made the decision to re-accept him at the request of the Police, pending the outcome of the investigation, in order to better keep track of his whereabouts. 

Police earlier alleged the conspiracy involved money changing hands between alleged plotters.

The investigation is examining at least one financial transfer from a person or entity based in Australia as part of an investigation into possible financial links between the alleged conspirators. 

“Evidence alleges planning of a weapon, transportation and that cash was exchanged between the conspirators,” the statement said. 

The Village council of Lauli'i first raised the alarm about the alleged plot last month.

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