Man Accused of New Years Eve Double Murder Changes Counsel, Applies for Bail

Witnesses say this is the place along the road where Fata Utufua was standing when he was shot. Photo: Taielua Tuasivi, SGN.

Samoa awoke on New Years Day 2021 with the news that three men had been killed throughout the night’s celebrations. Two of them were killed just after midnight in an alleged double murder in the village of Afega.

Police say Faalavaau Taii Vaotuua allegedly used a low-calibre .22 millimetre handgun to shoot two men in an incident witnesses say was triggered by a dispute earlier in the evening.

Accused Faalavaau Tai’i Vaotuua Auleoleo Neemia Pologa. Photo: Marieta H Ilalio

Elisara Lole Fata, an untitled father of four in his late 30s, and Fata Utufua Fata, a father of six in his early 40s both died of gunshot wounds before reaching Motootua Hospital on New Years Eve.

Mauga Precious Chang has taken over as new counsel from Leinafo Taimalelagi who had told the Court last month that her instructions were – Vaotuua was considering a change of plea, and he did not wish to apply to for bail.

Yesterday in the Supreme Court Mauga Precious confirmed her client has already filed and served a new bail application to be considered by the Court.

Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma adjourned the matter for a bail hearing on the 29th of March, to be heard before Justice Vui Clarence Nelson.

Mauga Precious Chang takes over as Counsel

Mauga took over as defense counsel when Leinafo Taimalelagi withdew as lawyer last week.

Faalavaau Tai’i Vaotuua Auleoleo Neemia Pologa has already entered a not guilty plea to all four charges against him which includes two of murder, one of armed with a dangerous weapon namely a pistol and possessing of an unlawful weapon.

Two traditional apologies (ifoga) to the families of the men who died, were swiftly performed by family of Vaotuua, and village elders of Falelatai where he holds the titles of Faalavaau amd Tai’i.

Marieta H Ilalio