Unlawfully detained prisoner changes plea

A convict, who was unlawfully jailed for more than four years, has asked the Court to change his guilty plea to not guilty in an incident where he allegedly assaulted other inmates during a mass prison break. 

Sio Agafili Alovaa, of Sala'ilua Savai'i, had pleaded guilty to a charge of grievous bodily harm against another inmate at Tanumalala prison. 

The 45-year-old father is accused of assaulting other inmates in March when there was a mass prison break at Tanumalala prison. 

Police reported that there were 29 prisoners that broke out from the high security prison facility during the mass prison break. 

After being assigned to a lawyer to represent him on the matter where he was unlawfully detained for more than four years, Alova'a decided to vacate his plea. 

Through his lawyer, Muriel Lui, the accused wants to plead not guilty to the charge relating to the prison break incident. 

Prosecutor and Assistant Attorney General, Magele Leone Su’a, asked for an adjournment to consider the application of change of plea. 

Chief Justice, His Honour Satiu Simativa Perese, granted the request. 

The accused has been remanded on bail until 24 August 2020 when the prosecution will provide response to the application from the defense. 

Alovaa was recently released on bail by Consent Orders after the Court found that he has been unlawfully detained for almost five years. 

His unlawful detention was uncovered by Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke after reviewing the accused’s file on the charge of grievous bodily harm. 

He has been in jail since 2008 and had reoffended while he was behind bars. 

The accused was still uncertain when he was asked outside Court on Monday if he has decided on whether he will file lawsuit against Government for his unlawful detention. 

The father of three said he still has to discuss those matters with his lawyer. 

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