Police investigate death threats aimed at lawyer

The lawyer for two of the men charged for allegedly conspiring to assassinate the Prime Minister says she is considering withdrawing from the case after she and her family received death threats.

The Ministry of Police is investigating the alleged death threats directed towards Unasa Iuni Sapolu.

“The threats are directed at me, my children and my family,” she said, in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.

Unasa is representing Malele Atofu Paulo - better known as King Faipopo - and Lema'i Faioso Sione who are facing charges for conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi. 

But she said recently that she was now considering withdrawing from the case due to the threats. 

In a post to her Facebook page, Unasa described the matter as “possibly the most dangerous case” she’s ever worked on. 

“As there are threats to kill me and my family; thinking withdrawal; Samoa [is] becoming dangerous,” she said. 

The lawyer said the threats were sent through her son, Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu’s, Facebook page. 

“[The] Police [have been] contacted as it’s the first time in my at least 30 plus years as lawyer in New Zealand and Samoa, my life and my family's lives been threatened," she said. 

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“We are taking all security precautions and police alerted. 

“As New Zealand citizens, we are considering seeking help from New Zealand High Commission in Apia,” said Unasa. 

E-mails to the Acting Police Commissioner, Papali'i Monalisa Keti, did not get a response at the time of going to press.

She said one threat conveyed a message that she was standing in the way of powers greater than the Prime Minister. 

“Eliota has blocked and screenshot the threats," she said. 

The Samoa Observer has contacted Eliota for comment. 

However, in a video posted to his personal Facebook page, he said online rumours were circulating falsely implicating his family in the plot. 

This comes after the Police issued a warning against “false statements” made by “ill intentioned persons” on social media.

“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 warned.

Unasa is the leader and lawyer for the Samoa Solidarity International Group (S.S.I.G.) which filed a $5 million lawsuit seeking to reclaim ownership of customary land.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court dismissed an application to sue the former Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, and the Asian Development Bank as part of those proceedings.

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