Church Minister removed from village, awaits Police investigation

A church Minister implicated in an ongoing Police investigation in relation to a 16-year-old boy who died in Savai’i has been removed from the village.

In confirming the removal of the Church Minister, the General Secretary of the Methodist Church, Reverend Eteuati Tuioti, made it clear he has not been stepped down from being a Pastor.

“We want to make it clear that the church minister in question has not been stripped of his title as an ordained church minister,” Rev, Tuioti said.

 “The church minister who is being subjected to a police investigation has only been removed from his previous post and is currently stationed at Faleula, the church’s headquarters.”

Rev. Tuioti said the Church would await the completion of the Police investigation before they decided their next move.

 “We felt that there was a need for the Church to do our own internal investigations,” he said, adding that the conclusion was to bring the Minister back to Faleula.

He has been substituted by another Minister in the interim.

The decision by the church follows a complaint lodged against the Minister in relation to the deceased 16-year-old boy.

The deceased, identified as So’otaga Viliamu, remains under Police custody and is awaiting a Pathologist’s inquiry.

It was not possible to get a comment from Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil on Tuesday.

On Monday, the deceased boy’s mother, Vagalena Viliamu, made a plea to Police to release the body of her child so they can lay him to rest. Mrs. Viliamu said the investigation has taken too long.

 “We still haven’t heard anything updated about the investigation and we are planning to go to the Police Commissioner to put through our request,” she said.

“But if that fails we will go straight to the Prime Minister as a last resort for assistance.

“My son had the same condition that also claimed his father's life and that’s leukaemia, his death certificate says this, so we do not know what more they have investigated.”

Mrs. Viliamu claims she has been told that the challenge is that someone filed a complaint alleging there was foul play but the family are not aware of whom it is.

“We don’t understand who those people are and it is definitely not our family, all we want is to bury him quickly. Anything other than that, they can do it on their own,” she said.

 “My son has been in there for far too long, all I ask is for the chance to bring him home.”

So'otaga was a twin to younger brother Taloto, and third of seven children altogether.  He was also a Year 11 student at the Alofi-o-Taoa College in Fatuvalu, Savaii.

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