Notorious criminal on the run 11 months on

Samoa’s most wanted criminal, Pati Chong Nee, has nearly chalked up a year on the run from the authorities. 

Chong Nee and partner-in-crime Aniseko Vaelei – who had both been sentenced for a couple of burglaries and robberies – dashed for freedom on January 20 this year during a church service at the now decommissioned Tafaigata Prison.

Vaelei was recaptured by the Police a month later with $10,000 tala cash. The 25-year-old and is from the villages of Aleisa and Vaitele Fou 

But as months go with radio silence on Chong Nee's whereabouts, it has been widely speculated he has died. 

But that theory was dispelled by Minister of Prisons, Tialavea Tioniosio Hunt saying it was news to him, hoping “nothing has happened to him.”

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The Minister added that the last time the prisoner was on the run for almost a year he was assisted by members of the public who aided his evasion of capture by the authorities by harbouring him.

In June this year, Ministry of Police again issued a warning against harboring criminals with prison escapees Pati Chong Nee and 60-year-old Suitupe Faamoe still on the run.

Faamoe escaped from jail in May while he was with a group of prisoners working on the new Tanumalala Prison, prior to its opening.

The 59-year-old convict from Vailuutai, Faleatiu and Fagamalo Savai’I, is serving time for murder and possession of narcotics.  

Under the Crime Act section 144, a person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, who rescues any person from lawful custody, whether in a prison or another place, or who assists any person to escape from such custody, or who aids, harbours, conceals, or shelters any person who has escaped from such custody, knowing that person to have so escaped.

Asked about a reward offered to the public in return for information, Tialavea said it's out of the question.

“That will never happen! It will send out the wrong message and our people with take advantage of that,” he said.

The last evidence of Chong Nee being seen alive was in February where he was captured on CCTV camera attacking Chinese nationals in Vailoa.

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