Border shutdown delays attempted murder extradition
The closure of international borders has delayed the extradition of a seasonal worker in Australia facing an attempted murder charge in Samoa.
Junior Vaitu’utu’u Timu, of Vaitele and Aleisa, is currently in Australia under the seasonal workers scheme. He has been there since October last year.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo, confirmed that all of the necessary arrangements for Timu’s extradition are done. He said it is only a matter of time until he will be returned to Samoa.
“They can’t come as civilians like you and I for safety reasons on the plane,” said Agafili.
“Usually they are accompanied by Police to escort them and that is the case for those being deported from New Zealand and Australia for any criminal records…”
Asked about a new criminal charge against Mr. Timu in Australia, where he has been accused of allegedly stabbing another seasonal worker, Agafili said he is not privy to that information.
He referred questions on those details to the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour.
Attempts have been made to get a comment from M.C.I.L. C.E.O., Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling.
In June this year, Pulotu wrote to the Acting Attorney General to advice them about a possibly delay in extraditing Mr. Timu due to a new charge against him.
“Recently, we have been advised that Timu has been charged with another criminal offence in Australia where it is alleged he stabbed another Samoan worker during a scuffle and has the next court mention date [in Australia] set for 01 July 2020,” Pulotu wrote in that letter.
“Previously, we were intending to have Timu return immediately upon the reopening of borders and the resumption of normal operations to international air travel.
“However, given the new development this would delay Timu’s return to Samoa until the criminal process in Australia is completed.”
Timu’s outstanding attempted murder charge in the Supreme Court surfaced in March this year when his matter was called for mention but he did not appear.
At the time the prosecution had informed the Court that the accused had left for Australia as part of the seasonal workers' scheme.
Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke then instructed the prosecution to find out how the 32-year-old left the country if there was a Departure Prohibition Order [D.P.O.] against his travel in place.
But M.P.M.C. had confirmed that there was no D.P.O. issued for Mr. Timu to prevent him from leaving the country, which enabled him to slip past the authorities.
The Government later filed for extradition to return Mr. Timu to Samoa to answer to his pending Court case.