A former cop charged with the murder of a police woman has been denied bail by the Supreme Court.
Edward Fanueli faces charges of murder with lesser alternate charges of manslaughter in relation to the death of Police Officer Mele Segisolo Lapana who was shot and killed in the early hours of Saturday morning 24 December 2022.
Through his lawyer Leiataualesa Jerry Brunt, Fanueli has pleaded not guilty to all five charges against him including murder with the alternative charges of manslaughter and grievous bodily harm, as well as being armed with a dangerous weapon and possession of an unlawful weapon.
Prosecution led by Lupematasila Iliganoa Atoa of the AGs Office had strongly objected to Fanueli’s release during the bail hearing held last week before Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Tologata Leilani Tuala-Warren.
In handing down the decision this morning, Justice Tuala-Warren ruled that bail should not be granted at this point in time.
“There is just cause for the Applicant to be remanded in custody and accordingly, his Application for bail is declined.”
Justice Tuala-Warren also set down a prohibition order against the publication by news media of any surrounding facts of the case as presented in Court and set out in her ruling.
“Due to the particular facts of this case, the public and media interest it has drawn and the fact that it will be a trial before assessors drawn from our community, it is important to protect the accused’s right to a fair trial protected by Article 9(1) of the Constitution”.
“The publication of the surrounding facts alleged as set out in this Ruling may prejudice that right to a fair trial guaranteed by Article 9(1).”
“Accordingly, the only part of this ruling which may be published in news media, on the internet, or in any other publicly accessible database, until final disposition of the trial, is the fact that the accused applied for bail and that application for bail was declined.”
The family of the accused were given an opportunity by Police to say goodbye inside the Courtroom before Fanueli was taken away into custody to await the August court hearing. Emotional and upset, a family member exclaimed that it was not uncommon for those accused of murder to be released on bail, and said the judgement was unfair.
The parents of Mele Lapana were present in Court and sat through the reading of the judge’s decision. Mele’s father was emotional and could not hold back tears as the decision was being read out.
The high profile case has attracted many public posts from friends and relatives of Mele Lapana, calling for #Justice4Mele on social media.