Police to investigate reporter's on camera 'bribe'
The Ministry of Police says it will investigate a video by a local online media company, LoaBay, which captures one of its own reporters apparently attempting to offer a Police Officer a $20 tala bribe.
The reporter, Gago Faau Gago, was told to stop recording footage of Police removing a dead body from the site of a tragic incident at Malifa on Saturday afternoon when he made the ostensible offer of $20. He strenuously denies the offer was serious, saying it was intended as an integrity test for the Police officer.
But the Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, confirmed they will investigate the matter.
“We will look into that next week,” the Commissioner told the Samoa Observer during an interview.
“For the time being all resources are allocated to the tragic incident where two lives were lost as well as a business was lost”.
A man and a woman died and a gas station was set alight at Malifa on Saturday afternoon in an apparent instance of domestic violence.
Gago is the owner of LoaBay Pasefika Productions and was behind the camera lens when a Police Officer asked him to cease filming.
“You cannot record this [incident] at this time,” said the unidentified Police Officer.
Gago questioned the Officer why he had to comply with those orders.
“This is news [outlet] for the Loabay in Samoa,” he said.
The officer told him that recording was prohibited.
At that time, Gago was heard trying to give the Police Officer money.
“Here is a $20 to buy something,” said Gago.
The Police Officer can be heard rejecting the money.
“No, that is not how it works,” said the Officer.
Gago was heard three times offering $20 tala to the Officer; each time the appeal was rejected.
Gago then said: “I am Mr Gago and I sing.”
The officer continued to ask the reporter for his phone.
However Gago informed the Officer that other Police Officers at the scene allowed him on scene.
“You cannot be here,” said the Officer.
Gago told the Officer that Loabay is just like the Samoa Observer - a media outlet.
But Gago told the Samoa Observer, that he was only testing the Police Officer and not intending to offer him a bribe.
“I did it on purpose, I was testing the cop during my video and he passed and there is no corruption as many have criticised [in the past,” Gago said.
“There is no intention at all [to bribe] the officer and I was right. I gave him $20 tala and tested him and the cop passed the test and now people know the cops are not corrupted,” he said.
The recording has since been taken down. Gago said he was asked to remove the video.
“I was told to take down the video and I can easily edit that part out, but I left it there for the public to know the Police are not corrupt,” he said.
“And it’s a good news [story] and if the cop took the money and it wouldn’t be good.”
Asked whether he interfered in any manner in the Police’s response, Gago said no.
“I was allowed by other officers when I told him I’m from Loabay and I was allowed to enter the area and if anything that Officer was interfering with my work,” he said.
“And the video I took of the Police car taking a deceased body and the recording didn’t show the body, just like photos the Samoa Observer posted”.