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Hearing of extradition against alleged P.M. plotter adjourned

One of the men accused of conspiring to murder Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, Talalelei Pauga, will appear in an Adelaide's Magistrate Court on Monday 07 December 2020.

It will be to have his application over his extradition demanded by the Samoan Government heard by Magistrate David McLeod.

His application to refuse extradition to Samoa, scheduled for Monday 26 November, was adjourned until December. 

Pauga has been in detention in the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre since August 20, when he was arrested after Samoa's extradition request was processed by Australian authorities.

He faced the courts for the first time in late September, where his lawyers argued he has been unlawfully detained while the extradition case is considered. His lawyers say he should have seen a magistrate as soon as he was arrested, not six weeks later.

Attorney General, Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale confirmed earlier this month that Samoa first requested Pauga’s extradition in February.

She said her office is “duty-bound” to pursue the case and begin criminal proceedings against him in Samoa, as there is “sufficient evidence” to support Samoa’s claims against him.

The evidence has not been made public, something international human rights watchdog Amnesty International is worried about.

Pacific researcher, Kate Schuetze said the extradition appears “politically motivated.”

Earlier this month, she said Samoa should have opted to give Australia any evidence it has against Pauga so that he could be prosecuted in Australia, where he was at the time the crime allegedly was committed.

“I think there is a real risk this is a politically motivated charge,” Ms. Scheutze said.

“You have an individual who has been quite critical of the Government and its policies, and to some degree has probably been deeply offensive of the Prime Minister, but that in and of itself is not a crime.

“We really need to know what the evidence is being brought by the Samoan Government in this case so the extradition request can be considered in light of any credible evidence they might have.”

In 2018 he was charged after throwing a pig’s head at Tuilaepa during an event in Queensland. 

A petition by the Samoa Solidarity International Group to have Australia review its extradition arrangements with Samoa has garnered around 450 signatures.

The petitioners want Australia’s Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights to review whether the country’s extradition laws are “compatible” with human rights and for the committee to report on its findings of any review to Parliament. 

It also makes a series of 16 points, detailing issues with Samoa’s extradition request.

Samoa and Australia have a non-treaty based extradition relationship, based on the Extradition (Samoa) Regulations 2010, which is under the Extradition Act 1988.

As it is not a treaty, Australia has no legal obligations under international law to honour Samoa’s request. 

It is up to the Attorney General to make extradition decisions on a case-by-case basis if a person is found to be eligible for extradition. The Samoa Observer understands that there is no manual that outlines how the Act should be administered.

Pauga now faces two legal processes in Australia, over whether his detention so far has been unlawful, and whether the Australian courts will find him eligible for extradition and agree to surrender him to Samoa.

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