Video link hearing for convicts in mass prison break

Tanumalala Prison inmates, who took part in a mass jail breakout in late March, have appeared before the Supreme Court but not as people are used to.

The 25 defendants appeared before Supreme Court Justice Leaiataualesa Daryl Clarke for a custody hearing through a video link on Monday morning.

They are: Fiapapalagi Faasisila, Tauinaola Laupua, Simanua Manuele, Sefo Amituanai, Lagalaga Misiluki, Faigame Vaitoelau, Base Leituala, Saua Tufugafale, Tafiga Taupauga, Lilo Isaako, Dave Sapati, Maimoana Palea, Pauvi Lino, Talia Malaga, Salakai Molioo, Luaipou Fidow, Atapana Taliaoa, Uimaitua Papalii, Paul Leapai, Jeffrey Salapo, Fagaese Ropeti, Lupe Lelevaga, Titi Totini, Vailiili See Fagauea, Hinoma Aukusitino and Pauna Kalolo.

Some of the charges that the prisoners face will be revised and brought to the attention of the proper court before they are adjudicated, says Government Prosecutor, Lucy Sio Ofoia.

A number of inmates also face additional charges such as assault, while those charged for escaping from prison will be referred to the District Court. 

The matter has been adjourned by the Supreme Court to Monday, 22nd June.

The prison break occurred on a Monday night, 23 March, just a few days into a declaration by the government of a National State of Emergency (S.O.E.) in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Samoa Police Service informed the general public of the jailbreak on their Facebook page.

Police were notified by the Samoa Prisons and Correction Services that an estimated 29 prisoners escaped from the Tanumalala Prisons.

In actuality, it was total of 36 prisoners who escaped and by Friday, all 36 convicts were captured and taken back to prison.

On Monday night following the breakout, 21 prisoners were recaptured and by Wednesday the Police had another 11 in custody, with the remaining four apprehended on Thursday.

It was the biggest prison break in Samoa's history.

A corrections officer said that one of her colleagues was struck on the head and beaten quite badly by one of the prisoners. 

There are several theories behind the mass breakout, which included resentment among the inmates at the sharing of a television between the cell blocks. 

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