Police to investigate alleged drunken quarantine brawl

A brawl last Friday evening between passengers in a quarantine facility hours after they arrived back in the country airport is under investigation by the Police.

Witnesses described alcohol as being a contributing factor to the fight. Alcohol is banned from Quarantine facilities. 

The altercation is understood to be the second episode of physical violence in a quarantine facility involving repatriated Recognised Seasonal Employers (R.S.E.) to have arrived from Auckland last Friday night.

Deputy Police Commissioner, Papali’i Monalisa Tiai-Keti, told the Samoa Observer in a telephone interview that they are currently investigating the incident as it was a breach of state of emergency orders.

“We confirm [...a breaching of the state of emergency] occurred on Friday night,” she said. 

It is understood the brawl occurred at Lynn's Getaway in Tanugamanono.

Papalii said the suspects involved in the brawl could not be taken in by Police for questioning [because] are currently in quarantine. 

“They cannot be brought in for questioning as usual because they are isolated so we can’t charge like here like a criminal charge because they are subject to the 14 days isolation."

A Lynn's Getaway employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Samoa Observer that the passengers at the centre of the brawl were removed from the hotel and taken to another isolation location. 

“All we know was that he got too drunk and the other guy was just trying to make him not make so much noise which ended up in that situation,” the staff member said. 

“They might be brought to be quarantined in Tofamamao and Faleolo sites but we wouldn’t know much because the health workers deal with them not us.”

Passengers are not allowed to bring alcohol into the country or allowed to take any into the quarantine sites.

Papalii said: “Most likely we would impose the fine because there are conditions under the [state of emergency] orders for the travellers and if they breach any of the travel advisories conditions by the Health, they are subject under that.

“We are all under the N.E.O.C. [National Emergency Operations Centre] so the Police enforce the breaches but isolation is handled by the Health [Ministry of Health].

"They are most likely fined under the [state of emergency breaches of] fines.” 

“Normally we treat it like an investigation process and we have to document all the actions and everything that follows.”

Health Ministry Director General, Dr. Leausa Take Naseri, when contacted by the Samoa Observer to confirm where the passengers were taken, said all the details in relation to the incident were passed on to the Savali newspaper for media inquiries. 

“Everything regarding that case has been transferred to the Savali Newspaper for your media dissemination,” he said.

But the Savali newspaper editor, Lave Tuiletufuga, when contacted by the Samoa Observer said he is not aware of the case or the media queries arrangement. 

“Unless it has been referred to Ulu [N.E.O.C Chair Ulu Bismarck Crawley] but at the moment we have nothing delivered to us,” he said.

The passengers who were involved in the brawl were among 200-plus passengers who arrived on Friday last week and are all in isolation.

On Sunday, the Samoa Observer reported on a separate brawl understood to have broken out at another quarantine facility on the same night. That incident is understood to have led to one person being admitted in the Faleolo Hospital.

The incident happened at Karl's Getaway at Moto'otua, one of the quarantine sites, between two returning seasonal employees who had flown in earlier the same day. 

It is not known if the men involved in that brawl had been transferred to another facility. 

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