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Convicts deny escaping from prison

Several prisoners charged with being party to a mass prison break at Tanumalala have denied escaping from the facility.

The prisoners are Sefo Amituanai, Pili Panapa, Paulo Paulo, Fiapapalagi Faasisila, Tauinaola Laupua, Simanua Manuele, Faigame Vaitoelau and Lagalaga Misiluki. 

In their defense the men claim they were beaten up by the guards at Tanumalala alleging it prompted them to flee prison. 

The men appeared before District Court Judge, Loau Donald Kerslake on Thursday. 

One of the prisoners Amituanai is facing charges of grievous bodily harm, three counts of intentional damage, armed with dangerous weapon and escaping prison. 

He pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Paulo also entered a not guilty plea to charges of breaking out of prison. 

The convict told the Court that he was admitted in the hospital for three days as a result of being assaulted. 

He asked the Judge if the photos taken during his time in hospital could be provided during his hearing date. 

Judge Loau noted what was raised by Paulo. 

Prisoner by the name of Lagalaga told the Court he never left his cell on the night of the prison break. 

He urged the Judge to look into the matter he is being accused of when he was not part of it. 

Again the Judge noted his concerns reminding the accused that he has the opportunity to address this issue on his hearing date. 

Another prison Lagalaga and the others have also pleaded not guilty to charges of escaping prison and causing grievous bodily harm against them. 

The presiding Judge said the matters have been referred to the Supreme Court for hearing. 

The dates allocated for the men’s hearing is on 7 December and 14 December. 

Prosecutor is Attorney General’s Office lawyer Silupevaelei Titi Rexona. 

An estimate of 29 prisoners reportedly involved in the prison break, the Samoa Police reported in March. 

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