Village chief demands proof
Luatuanu’u High Chief, Tofete Lafaaua Tofete, has challenged the Commissioner of Police, Fuiavai’iili Egon Keil, to provide evidence that guns were used during the fight between their village and Falefa.
“The incident has escalated not only about the day in question, but also the Prime Minister has labeled us as ‘dog’ all due to reports from the Police."
“So I want the Commissioner to bring evidence implicating that our village used guns."
“This statement is inaccurate,” said Tofete, who is also the village spokesperson.
He claimed that Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s comments in public regarding their village are based on “inaccurate” reports by the Police.
“That is why our Village Council is calling on the Commissioner to bring forth such evidence pointing to the guns because our Chiefs and untitled men and other members of the public can attest to the fact that no guns were used that day,” he said.
“I am not sure about the motivation behind such reports, but they are inaccurate,” said Tofete.
“Our efforts to file a criminal complaint under the Criminal Libel against the Prime Minister for defamation over his use of the word dogs in reference to the village was flatly denied by the Ministry of Police and now we know why.”
According to Tofete, they will file a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman next week. He added that they will not drop the defamation case against the Prime Minister.
The dispute, which led to Luatuanu’u men blocking the road, was the result of a fight between the Luatuanu’u youth and men of Falefa Village at a rugby game.
When the Police turned up, they were attacked with stones.
At the time, Tuilaepa said the young people of Luatuanu’u had no right to endanger the lives of the Police and the travelling public.
“These types of actions do not exist at this time and age,” said the Prime Minister.
“The actions by these young men are not that of humans, rather they are the actions of dogs.”
Tofete said Tuilaepa’s comments are unacceptable.
“We want to take him to Court,” he said. “We believe that our village is a victim in this ordeal because of the public comments by the Prime Minister."
“We want him to be held accountable in accordance with the law.”
Tofete told the Samoa Observer their request to file an official complaint with the Police was denied.
“The Police officials flatly denied our request,” he said.
“We were informed that only the Minister of Police can determine whether we can file a complaint or not. But then the Minister of Police is Tuilaepa, so where is the fairness in all of this?"
“The Police are where we seek assistance from. I am really saddened that we were denied access to filing an official complaint."
“We also took issue with the announcement by the Prime Minister that the Police Officers were shot at by men of our village. That is an absolute lie."
“I know for a fact Tuilaepa’s comment was based on the report by the Police."
“Those were lies and also the Police approach on the day in question was unacceptable."
“As a matter of fact, the Commissioner and his Police made it worse with their approach."
“They should have come directly to the Village Council, then things would be much smoother, but no, the Commissioner and his Police instigated the incident in the village, which led to injured people."
“Things would have been much smoother if the Police had followed the Samoan protocols and that was to come to the Village Council first,” said Tofete.
“I also want to make it clear that when we visited the office of the Prime Minister two weeks ago, we did not go there to apologise, we wanted to discuss some issues with him, so whoever said we were there to apologise that is wrong.”
Attempts to get a comment from the Police Commissioner were unsuccessful. It was not possible to get a comment from Prime Minister Tuilaepa at press time.