Lefagaoalii: One Matai Appears in Supreme Court, Prosecutors Yet to Finalise Charges

Aitau’ia Ioasa Lemau, is being charged with attempted murder for taking a knife to the neck of the victim which was slapped away avoiding fatal wounds.


Translated from Ganasavea Manuia Tafeaga’s FaaSamoa by Nicole Palamo-Wilson. A Lefagaoalii matai facing attempted murder charges for injuring the neck of another matai with a sharp object, appeared in the Supreme Court of Samoa on Monday morning.

A video of the Lefagaoalii incident sent shock waves throughout Samoa and its diaspora abroad, when a matai was seen on a social media video being carried through the village on a roasting stick (amo).

The video that went viral showing Sooalo, 72 years old, hanging from the amo.

An EFKS faifeau intervened and the intention of Lefagaoalii village matai was not carried out in its entirety, however, the 72-year-old victim was carried through the village in the most demeaning way possible – tied up as an animal.

Despite 12 arrests, an elderly village matai named Aitau’ia Ioasa Lemau, is the only one being charged with attempted murder for taking a knife to the neck of the victim which someone slapped away avoiding fatal wounds.

Aitau’ia Ioasa Lemau. Photo: Provided by village witnesses. 

Defense Counsel Su’a Alex Su’a submitted a bail application on behalf of his client, which Prosecution had opposed.

At the same time, Prosecution had yet to finalise charges.

Justice Niava Mata Tuatagaloa of the Supreme Court of Samoa granted a one week adjournment to allow charges to be finalised so the defendant can plead.

The victim who identified himself as Sooalo Asiata Alaimanuomalo Lepa Vitale Tuu during an exclusive ET Live interview, was seen tied up by his hands and feet to a amo and carried publicly through the village towards the centre of the village where other matai had prepared a umu (above ground traditional baking oven).

Sooalo speaks out about the incident on ETLive, reporting from Savaii.

The age-old pre-Christianity practice of tying a man onto a amo to be carried on shoulders for transport towards a baking hot umu – has not been practiced since Samoa accepted and embraced Christianity in 1830.

Eleven more men including untitled men (taulelea) and matai – have been charged with assault, actual bodily harm, kidnapping and trespassing.

All 11 of them are expected to appear in the District Court in Tuasivi, Savaii on the 3rd of October.

Asked by Samoa Global News if matai who had made the decision to action such a barbaric act were being charged with attempted murder or even grievous bodily harm, Police confirmed the remaining perpetrators face charges of kidnapping, trespassing and actual bodily harm or common assault in the District Court of Tuasivi.