Political assassin accused of stealing $10,000 worth of beer

The man convicted for Samoa's first political assassination, Alatise Leafa Vitale, is among two former employees accused of stealing more than $10,000 worth of beer.

The theft of 136 cases, costing $10,540 from a location in Savai’i, is alleged to have occurred on two separate occasions in 2017 and 2018.

Vitale was convicted of murdering former Cabinet Minister, the late Luagalau Levaula Kamu, two decades ago and released from jail six years prior. 

Co-defendants, Vitale and Fagatua Niupou appeared before Supreme Court Justice Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma on Monday morning.

Vitale, Niupou and a third man, their co-defendant Tuatua Logi, were accused of stealing Vailima Pure on two separate occasions, in 2017 and 2018, when they worked for a beverage distributor in Savai’i that sells Samoa's signature Vailima beer.

Logi did not appear on Monday but had pleaded guilty in earlier court proceedings and was not in court.

Vitale pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Asked about the charge against him, he said: "I was not there. I don't understand."

Justice Fepulea’i said: “The record will note that prosecution is ready to proceed. Both defendants are also ready to proceed.”

Vitale had been represented by defence lawyer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu.

But because she will represent Vitale in another high-profile Court in which he will testify as a prosecution witness about an alleged plot to assassinate the Prime Minister, the lawyer was disallowed from representing him in the Vailima matter.

Justice Fepulea’i noted that Vitale was denied an application for legal aid.

The judge noted that Niupou has always been unrepresented and wishes to continue to unrepresented.

Justice Fepulea’i instructed Vitale and Niupou to secure lawyers and appear with their lawyers for their hearing next week.

Logi would prefer his sentence be determined before he gives any evidence in the trial, Justice Fepulea’i said.

For those reasons, he adjourned the hearing to Monday 22 June 2020.

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