Final Suspect in High-Profile Conspiracy to Murder Case Appears in Court

"He is the fourth and final defendant in the high-profile case that first emerged.."

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File Photo: O se ata o Talalelei Pauga sa pueina i le tausaga 2019. Ae o le taimi nei, ua uumi lona lauao, toe fai lana va'aiga.

Translated from FaaSamoa by Nicole Palamo-Wilson. Talalelei Pauga appeared in the Supreme Court of Samoa yesterday facing charges for his alleged involvement in a plot to assasinate former prime minister, Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi and former Police Commissioner Su’a Egon Keil.

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He is the fourth and final defendant in the high-profile case that first emerged in 2019, when Samoa police were alerted by Alii ma Faipule (Council of Chiefs) of Laulii village.

The self-acclaimed hitman, Taualai Leiloa from Laulii and Magiagi was handed a five year prison term by Justice Tologata Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren in December 2020.

L-R: Lema’i Faioso Simanu Sione, Taualai Leiloa and Malele Paulo appear in Court, September 2019.

In February 2023 two other conspirators were found guilty by a panel of assessors after a week-long trial. Last month, Lema’i Simanu Sione was handed a four and a half year sentence while Malele Paulo aka King Faipopo was handed a four year prison term by Justice Vui Clarence Nelson.

This is Pauga’s first court appearance since being extradited to Samoa last Friday. Samoa Police travelled to Australia after a long awaited extradition order issued by Samoa’s Office of the Attorney in 2019 was finally accepted.

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The matter was called before Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma of the Supreme Court, who was unimpressed with an application by the Office of the AG requesting a two-week adjournment to finalise charges against the accused.

“Ua leva na tatau ona outou silafiaina ma faatulaga le faila o le mataupu lenei.”

He told Prosecution that this was a long standing file and they should have been better organised.

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Justice Roma granted just one week.

Pauga was represented in Court by Tufuga Fagaloa Tufuga. The one week adjournment would give defense counsel time to submit a bail application for Pauga.

The Australian Samoan will be remanded in police custody until his next Court appearance on 11 September 2023.

The Courtroom was packed with supporters, friends and family of Pauga who have not been able to greet him since his arrival as he was taken directly to Tuanaimato from Faleolo Airport in the hours of Friday morning.

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