The Supreme Court of Samoa has set a trial date for Malele Paulo aka “King Faipopo” and former Samoa First election candidate Lema’i Faioso Sione; jointly charged for conspiracy to murder the Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.
The trial had been set for November this year, however, the Court has had to deal with several other applications such as a request to leave jurisdiction, refused by the Courts, and changes in defense counsels.
Delays have also been forced as Court proceedings drag on for a third man accused.
Misa Taualai Leiloa had immediately pleaded guilty back in September when the matter was first called before Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren. He has since changed his plea, as well as his defense counsel, causing delays to a Court decision. Previously represented by Fuimaono Sarona Ponifasio, Taualai has since declared his defense counsel to be Fepuleai Patrick Fepuleai.
It was understood at the time that Taualai had become a key witness for the Police against three co-conspirators. The fourth being Australian citizen Tala Pauga; the man who gained public attention by throwing a pigs head at the Prime Minister during a 2018 community event in Brisbane.
“It was my protest as a citizen of Australia.. I didn’t want to welcome the Prime Minister of Samoa into my country (Australia) where I pay tax”.
Pauga had publicly stated at the time, “the reason why I used dog food and pig’s head is because he (Tuilaepa) calls the people of my country pua’a elo, maile and all that – so I thought I would give it right back to him.”
Commissioner Keil had said at the time that Tala Pauga was a major character identified during preliminary investigations. The Attorney General has since confirmed that Australia has responded positively to the extradition order.
The conspiracy was first reported by the Alii and Faipule, (Village Council) of Laulii in September 2019, when High Chiefs noticed unusual behavior amongst the youth including Taualai Leiloa, who is married to a woman from their village.
Taualai and his wife were being seen driving around in a rental car, and village chiefs became suspicious of how frequent drinking sessions were being funded by unemployed village youth.
It is alleged that the co-conspirators intended Taualai Leiloa to be the hitman, providing him with transport, money and a weapon.
This week, Justice Leiataualesa told defense counsels, Unasa Iuni Sapolu and Faualo Lefau Harry Schuster that they could still apply for an earlier hearing date if they wanted to, but the Supreme Court calendar has now reached August 2021.
Faualo is now representing Lemai Faioso Sione.