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Govt. lacks evidence on two criminals

The Minister of Prison and Correction Services, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, says the Government lacks solid evidence that criminals Tagaloasa Filipaina and Ovaleni Poli planned a mass jail breakout in February this year.

Concerns over reports of a breakout, purportedly schemed by Tagaloasa and Ovalegi, led to the Police removing the two prisoners from the Ta’afaigata prison for safety reasons. Not long after, the prisoners hired an attorney to go to Court, to making an application requesting to be transferred back to the prison.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, the Minister said as it stands the evidence is hearsay and they will transfer the prisoners back to Ta’afaigata.

“It was all circumstantial evidence and hearsay by prisoners which started the whole mess. 

“The decision is final and they will be transferred back to jail cells at the prison compound. 

“The Police stations are just holding cells, it is not a jail and although it has been declared as a jail, it is for temporary holds,” Tialavea said.

The delivery of food and supplies to the two prisoners on a daily basis - who have been locked up at the Central Police Station since February - was becoming a challenge for the Ministry of Prisons and Correction Services. 

“It’s a hassle for the P.C.S. to continue this daily route of delivering food and necessary supplies for the two prisoners at the Central Police Station,” said Tialavea. 

When asked as to why now, the Minister in response, said: “And why not, I have that authority and will act on it. The prisoners are also humans, we cannot continue to keep them locked in cells and not allow them to go out for a breath of fresh air, they have not allowed on any activities, yet these are all forms of rehabilitation for the prisoners.” 

Early this year the Police received information from Prisons authority in relation to a planned mass prison break, which would involve a coordinated effort by the prisoners’ hierarchy as Samoa prepared for Tropical Cyclone Gita. About 90 Police officers descended on the prison and did a raid, finding drugs that subsequently led to criminal charges being laid against two prisoners. 

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