Assassination plot probe turns to financial links
The Police say an alleged conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, involved money changing hands between plotters.
The revelation comes as they broaden their investigations outside of Samoa.
Police are examining at least one financial transfer from a person or entity based in Australia as part of an investigation into possible financial links between the alleged conspirators.
“Evidence alleges planning of a weapon, transportation and that cash was exchanged between the conspirators,” the Samoa Police Service said in a statement.
The Samoa Observer has learned that at least one recent money transfer from Australia to Samoa has come to the attention of investigators, raising the possibility of foreign nationals being included in the conspiracy investigation.
The Australian Federal Police did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.
"[We will] determine whether overseas nationals or entities were directly involved,” the Police said last week while confirming foreign police services had been contacted.
Police said that the evidence for all charges had been reviewed by the Attorney General’s office.
Police have also warned of “false statements” made by “ill intentioned persons” on social media.
In particular the Police expressly denied that the Prime Minister was related to any members of the alleged conspiracy, or that he was involved in any way beyond serving as an alleged target.
“If ongoing public false statements posted on social media by knowing or ill intended persons encroach on the investigation or hinder the course of justice in any way, then that will be taken seriously,” the Police statement said.
Meanwhile, Police continued to search for at least one weapon which they believe was linked to the alleged plot.
Police over the weekend also continued to search for a weapon alleged to have been linked to the plot.
The Village council of Lauli'i - who first raised the alarm about the alleged plot last week - unsuccessfully searched local houses for signs of a weapon understood to have been linked to the plot last week.
A man whose wife is a resident of Laulii, Taualai Taualai, was one of three men charged with the conspiracy last week.
Others facing charges include Malele Atofu Paulo - better known by the alias King Faipopo - and former Samoa First candidate Lema'i Faioso Sione.
Lauli'i village's Mayor, Fa'alogo Sasauli Moli, said that Taualai had told village authorities the gun was at his home.
“But it has gone missing and is no longer at his home,” said Fa'alogo. "We have left it like that and [are] leaving the matter for Police to do their work.”
Taualai was briefly banished from the village before being accepted again in order, the village Mayor said, to make it easier for Police to keep track of his whereabouts.
Paulo is in custody with Lemai while Taualai has been remanded on bail pending their appearance in Court on 26 August.