A 2019 extradition order against a man accused of conspiring to assassinate Samoa’s then Prime Minister and then Police Commissioner, has finally been granted by Australia.
Samoa Prosecutors through the Office of the Attorney General issued an extradition order against Samoan-Australian Talalelei Pauga in 2019 for his alleged role in an intricate plan to kill former PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi as well as former Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil.
In an interview with Samoa Global News, Samoa’s Attorney General, Su’a Hellene Wallwork said the extradition order has been approved and Samoa Police are on standby to fly to Australia and bring back the accused.
Talalelei Pauga first made the headlines in 2018 when he threw a pig’s head and uttered abusive language towards Tuilaepa during an event held in Brisbane, Australia.
In 2019 Tala “Ninja” Pauga was fined $2000 tala in the District Court of Samoa and ordered to also pay $200 towards police costs and $200 to the Immigration Office for wrongfully declaration on an arrival card.
The latest charges against Pauga are based on the revealing confession of the conspiracy’s hitman, who was sentenced to five years imprisonment by Justice Tologata Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren in December 2020.
In handing down her decision, Supreme Court Justice Tologata Tafaoimalo highlighted the seriousness of the offense.
“A conspiracy to murder the Prime Minister of any democratic country of the world is an attack on democracy itself”, said Justice Tologata Tafaoimalo in her sentencing report.
The confession of Taualai Leiloa, 41, from Magiagi and Laulii, describes a plot to assassinate Tuilaepa and Fuiavailili. Taualai was charged along with alleged co-conspirators, Malele Paulo aka King Faipopo (‘Malele’), Lemai Faioso Sione aka Simanu (‘Manu’) and Australian-based Talalelei Pauga aka Ninja (‘Tala’).
Malele Paulo and Lemai Sione were found guilty of the conspiracy in March 2023 and await sentencing in the Supreme Court.
The sentencing report of Taualai Leiloa, who is now halfway through his five year prison term, sets out details of the plan, allegedly masterminded by Talalelei Pauga.
According to Taualai, a weapon and a vehicle was provided to him, with instructions to go to Siusega Catholic parish where Tuilaepa would frequent 5am mass, or to the fish market on Sunday morning.
Samoa’s Attorney General says they are awaiting a final order from the Australian Attorney General’s office and once that is received, Samoa Police plan to travel to Australia to bring Pauga back.