Homicide investigation into 89-year-old man's burning death

Police have launched a murder investigation after an 89-year-old man burned to death inside his home at Vaisaulu Lalomalava, Savaii on Wednesday. 

The deceased man’s house caught ablaze early on Wednesday morning, the Samoa Observer understands, in a case that has investigators dealing with apparently contradictory evidence.   

“We are treating this as a homicide,” the Police Minister Tialavea Tionisio Hunt said.  

“We will not leave any stone unturned. 

“Preliminary investigations suggest that a mosquito coil caused the fire, but it’s unlikely someone would sleep through a fire. 

“However the Police investigation will answer all the unanswered questions into this incident.

“The 89-year-old man's remains were uncovered after the fire died down and it was not a pleasant sight. 

“May he rest in peace and we hope to get to the bottom of this.”

The Minister also remarked upon the increasing number of deaths during the holiday season. 

“The number has now increased to seven in the span of two weeks,” Tialavea said. 

This week, Commissioner of Police Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil, confirmed that more than 100 people were arrested during the Police’s festive season operations. 

The operation ran from 23 December last year through to 3 January 2021 and Fuiavaili'ili said Police made a total 128 arrests over that period. 

The Commissioner said there are two murder cases under investigation, including one alleged shooting double murder in Afega and another stabbing case in Lona, Fagaloa.

The Police and Prisons Commissioner said that two inquiries had been launched into drownings, one involving a 20-year-old male at Togitogiga Falls and another a one-year-old at Afega.

Separate inquiries are being made into the death of a male in his early 20s who was purportedly speared by a swordfish while out diving for fish in Asaga, Savaii.

The Police Commissioner’s Office said that some of the incidents involved alcohol consumption.

During the same period, Police also made 31 arrests for cases involving people driving under the influence (D.U.I.).

The Commissioner said calls for Police assistance had increased by more than five per cent this festive season when compared to the year prior. 

Last week, Tialavea called for drunk drivers to face mandatory jail sentences following a spate of fatal crashes this festive season.  

The measure was proposed in response to recent fatal accidents in the fortnight leading up to Christmas. 

“Too many lives have been lost because of drunk drivers and reckless drivers throughout the year,” he said.



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