Prisoner fights for life

A prisoner is fighting for his life in the Intensive Care Unit after suffering severe brain injuries during a massive breakout from the Tanumalala Prison on Monday night. 

The now former Commissioner of Samoa Prisons and Correction Services, Taitosaua Edward Winterstein, confirmed that the prisoner was fighting for his life. 

A medical officer told the Samoa Observer that he was admitted to hospital with bleeding in the brain and was immediately rushed to the operating theatre.

He is one of five prisoners who became severely injured in the course of the riot; some were treated and released on site.

A total of 16 people were injured during Monday night’s incident, including: eight prison guards; five men and three women. 

Three male prison guards were rushed to hospital sustaining severe injuries.

The young prisoner with severe head injuries was rushed to the Emergency Room at Moto’otua in a Fire and Emergency Authority (F.E.S.A.) Ambulance shortly before 11pm, shirtless and unconscious.

On Monday night, doctors and nurses were called back on duty after an emergency trauma call was activated.

Taitosaua Edward Winterstein, who on Tuesday stepped down from his role as the Commissioner of Samoa Prisons and Correction Services (S.P.C.S.), told reporters he was not able to release the prisoner’s name. 

“He is now in I.C.U.,” he said.

Former Commissioner Taitosaua also confirmed that the Deputy Commissioner of the S.P.C.S, Levaopolo Rosa Siaosi, was on duty at the site, and was targeted in the riot that preceded the breakout. 

Taitosaua also confirmed that the prisoners who were injured were mostly those who helped protect prison guards from other inmates who had been going on a rampage. 

During their evening ‘master call’ (or head count) guards were ambushed inside prison cells, where they were attacked with bricks, rocks and iron bars.

During the press conference, Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil revealed that another set of prisoners were released from their cells to assist with the situation, before the Police arrived at the scene.

Only 21 prison guards were on duty when the mass prison break occurred.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 32 escapees have been captured from the 36 who escaped.

Conflicting estimates emerged on Tuesday about the number of prisoners involved in the escape. 

Initially, the Prisons Minister Tialavea Tionisio Hunt said that 29 prisoners had escaped. 

But later in the day the Commissioner of Police, Fuiavailili Egon Keil, quoted a new figure of 36 prisoners.


Bg pattern light


Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?