Samoa Police have arrested and charged a Methodist church minister in relation to the death of a 16 year old boy for an alleged incident that occurred over a year ago in Safotu, Savaii.
Reverend Poese Leaupepe was taken into custody by Police last Saturday and Deputy Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo confirmed he was charged with manslaughter, one charge of causing grievous bodily harm, one of causing injuries and one of assault in relation to the youth’s death.
Speaking to Samoa Global News Reverend Poese Leaupepe said he was picked up by police from his office at the Methodist Church compound at Faleula, and did not understand why the charges have only been brought against him now, when the incident happened over 12 months ago.
According to the church minister, he had only slapped the boy once.
“I am in the dark as to why the police have charged me because as far as I’m concerned the boy died from leukemia,” Reverend Leaupepe said in a telephone interview earlier today.
“I am ready to fight this in Court because I only slapped the boy to discipline him and the slap could not have killed anyone”, he insisted.
Deputy Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo says it has taken this long for their investigations to gather the necessary evidence and witness statements to bring forth charges against Reverend Poese, who was serving as a church minister at Safotu during the time of the alleged assault.
“The case was referred to us by the doctors at Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital in March last year, and our investigations into the death of this boy have been ongoing since then,” Auapaau said.
“The victim is one of the 17 deceased at the mortuary waiting autopsies,” confirmed Auapaau.
“The matter is now with public prosecutors for court proceedings, and I won’t comment further than to say Samoa Police have brought charges against the Reverend on the basis of strong evidence and witness testimonies as to circumstances that led to death of this boy,” said Auapaau.
Samoa Global News spoke with a church member who was present during the incident at Safotu last year. Sharing on condition that they not be named, the parishner said excessive force was used and a few of them had to intervene in order for the church minister to stop.
“E sesē lena tala e na o le tasi le po.. e le tei tei foi lipoti e fomai..”
Rev Leaupepe will appear in the Supreme Court of Samoa on the 26th of April to answer to the charges against him.