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Judges "careless" on bail: P.M.

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, has argued the nation’s Judges need to take their roles more seriously and review the requirements for releasing criminal offenders on bail. 

Speaking to the 2AP broadcaster on Wednesday evening, Tuilaepa made reference to the Faleula raid last week at which the Police had confiscated a large cache of weapons and illegal contraband including utensils.

“It is starting to seem like there are Judges who do not take their roles seriously. It has not happened once but many times and it’s something the Police Commissioner has raised it multiple times,” he said.

“Like the man who was [allegedly] found to be in possession of firearms and illegal utensils, it’s not the first time he’s been apprehended by Police on the same things and he gets released again.

“The Police lock him [up] again and he gets out on bail. But these things are risky; it might kill an Officer, those who are out in the field. But it goes back to the judge who is making such decisions.”

Last week Thursday, the Police seized seven pistols and nine rifles, including .22 and .38 calibre pistols, a shotgun, a .22 rifle and two large barreled rifles from the Faleula resident during an operation. 

The most powerful of the guns was a .308 rifle that was enough “to blow you a mile away,” according to the Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil at a press conference held following the raid.

“The truth is [judges] are being careless. They should have looked closely at the history of this person, why he was jailed before and to prioritise the lives of civilians,” Tuilaepa said.

“[There are] requirements that guide the work [judges] do. There is a Commissioning body in the judiciary that discusses matters raised regarding the conduct of a Judge.”

Tuilaepa argued that convicted criminals walking freely among the community was diminishing the standing of the judicial system in the public’s eyes. 

This is not the first time the Prime Minister has questioned the operations of the court. 

Tuilaepa wrote to the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, Moliei Simi Vaai, in a letter dated 9 March this year seeking an explanation on how the Courts granted bail to criminal defendants with specific regard to a decision made in February to grant bail to Malele Paulo - also known as King Faipopo - and Lemai Faioso Sione.

The pair have pleaded not guilty to a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister.

Despite criticism from the legal fraternity, Moliei said Tuilaepa's concerns about bail procedures when it comes to criminal matters were "valid" and he could, therefore, raise questions.




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