Bail hearing for alleged plotters against P.M. closed to public
The bail hearing of two men accused of plotting to assassinate Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has been closed to the media and the general public.
The decision for the bail hearing of Malele Paulo, better known as King Faipopo, and Lemai Faioso Sione, was handed down by Supreme Court Justice, Mata Keli Tuatagaloa.
It was in response to an application by the Attorney General's Office seeking a closed Court bail hearing, arguing to exclude confidential information from the proceedings.
The safety of the Prime Minister was cited as one of the reasons behind the prosecution’s application.
Defence lawyer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, opposed the application.
Lemai and King Faipopo have pleaded not guilty to two charges of conspiring to murder Tuilaepa.
A third suspect, Taualai Leiloa, has already pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiring to murder the Prime Minister, while a fourth suspect from Australia remains at large.
Assistant Attorney General, Magele Leone Su’a noted in an earlier hearing that the Court's use of affidavits from the "informers," instead of having them subjected to cross examination.
The informers were identified as Taualai and Alatise Vitale.
Justice Tuatagaloa ruled the bail hearing will be “by way of viva voce” and Taualai and Alatise Vitale will give evidence.
“The information received in confidence is to remain confidential," Justice Tuatagaloa said.
"This includes additional information not disclosed in the affidavits of Taualai Leiloa and Alatise Leafa including statements made by the two witnesses to the Police."
"The bail hearing will be closed to the general public and the media. The court also prohibits the publication of any report or account of the whole of the proceedings of the bail hearing."
Assistant A.G. Magele in earlier hearing noted the Prime Minister’s safety remains an eminent issue as the second conspirator remains at large.
“This (confidential) information, if made publicly available, it does mean the alleged victim’s residence becomes public information as well as his daily routines and his routine on Sundays.
“If such information becomes publicised through media reporting, it does open a scope of potential suspects and there will no longer be a narrow the scope of people that possess this information.”
The prosecution pointed out while the two suspects are in custody, the risk for Prime Minister Tuilaepa remains real and significant.
Defence Counsel, noted that it is the interest of justice that the bail hearing is done in an open Court.
She argued that her clients should not continue to be incarcerated until they are proven guilty in Court.