Cabinet Directs AGs Office to Carry Out “Urgent Assessment of Evidence” for Vaitele Hit and Run Case

"The Office of the Attorney Genearal have been directed to carry out an urgent assessment of evidence pertaining to 2019 Hit and Run, and to consider whether Samoa should request a Special Unit of foreign Police to take over the investigation"

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Cabinet have directed the Office of the Áttorney General to carry out an urgent assessment of evidence of the police file for a hit and run case where a young man was killed on the 21st of April 2021.

In a public statement made last Friday 22 September 2023, Deputy Prime Minister- Hon Tuala Tevaga Ponifasio said the Office of the Attorney Genearal have been directed to carry out an urgent assessment of evidence pertaining to 2019 Hit and Run, and to consider whether Samoa should request a Special Unit of foreign Police to take over the investigation.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the Attorney General has been asked to then advise Cabinet on a way forward, adding that the Minister of Police, Hon Lefau Harry Schuster has declared his conflict of interest on the matter.

“The Minister of Police will continue to not be involved in the investigation of this matter because he has declared a relationship with the person suspected to be responsible for the hit and run.”

The Deputy Prime Minister’s statement is the first public notice that there is a suspect for the hit and run case, and the first mention of the Police Minister’s relationship to said suspect.

The Attorney General’s investigation and review of the file, says Tuala, is limited to this specific case, and not a review or investigation of any persons within the Police Department.

“This will not affect any positions within the Ministry of Police, and will be only be focused on the investigation of this case,” stated the DPM who adds the Samoa Police will continue to be guided by the leadership of Minister Lefau Harry Schuster and Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo.

The Deputy Prime Minister is also calling for the protection of Hon Ministers whose lives be may be under threat, according to a public statement made by a self-acclaimed witness by the name of “Sam”.

On Thursday 14th September, a 40-year-old man by the name of Samuelu Piki (also known as Sam Leau and Fauega Leau) was interviewed by a live podcast of BluTV.

Sam claimed he was at the scene of the hit and run and witnessed a landcruiser hitting the teenager.  He said he had given the Police his phone with photos he had taken from the night. His testimony was inconsistent in many areas, and said he had not come forward earlier because at the time of the accident, he was with his wife’s niece, with whom he was having an extra marital affair.

The witness, Sam, made several accussations towards Member of Parliament Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, a business woman, the Police Commissioner, several police officers and other members of the public, who he mentions by name.

In a separate allegation, “Sam” says he has been given $300 tala to assassinate FAST Party Chairman Hon Laaulialemalietoa, and Minister of Works Hon Olo Fiti Vaai.

The Deputy Prime Minister has also asked the Office of the Attorney General to offer protection to the Ministers mentioned in Sam’s public statements, and to protect any witnesses that come forward.

Meantime the Samoa Police, Prisons and Corrections (SPPCS) issued a statement to dismiss the claims made by Samuelu Piki, calling it out for its inconsistencies and

“The SPPCS can confirm that the accusations and information that have been shared on social media are inaccurate, inconsistent and do not verify the identification of any suspects, including allegations against Government officials in the performance of their duties.”

“The SPPCS therefore urges members of the public to refrain from spreading rumours based on any information that they receive and to report such information directly to SPPCS..”