8 February 2021 Mulinuu Courthouse, Apia Samoa. A man in his late 60s arrested for the double murder at Afega on New Years Eve, has pleaded not guilty to all four charges against him.
Faalavaau Tai’i Vaotuua Auleoleo Neemia Pologa entered a not guilty plea through his lawyer Leinafo Taimalelagi during criminal mentions in the Supreme Court of Samoa this morning. His lawyer also requested bail, but Prosecution adamantly objected so the Court set a bail hearing for later this month.
He faces two charges of murder and two charges relating to a low-calibre .22 millimetre handgun he allegedly used to shoot Elisara Lole Fata and Fata Utufua Fata, both of them fathers of young children from Afega.
The elderly man holds at least three high chiefly titles. He held the Vaotuua title from his wife’s family in Afega where he lived alone; his wife and children currently overseas. He also held the high chiefly titles of Faalavaau and Tai’i from Siufaga and Pata Falelatai respectively.
A few days after the January 1st incident, bus loads of high chiefs and family members from Falelatai came to Afega in the early hours of the morning, to perform a traditional apology to the families of the two men shot dead on New Years Eve.
According to witnesses, Elisara Lole Fata, an untitled father of four in his late 30s, was shot first. Elisara was shot infront of his home, his wife and children present.
Some time afterwards according to witnesses, the accused walked up to an unsuspecting Fata Utufua Fata, a father of six children in his early 40s, who had walked along the road towards the scene of the first crime, asking what was going on.
Nephews of Fata Utufua, who stood metres away from their uncle when he was shot dead, describe the horrific events of New Years Eve, saying they, too, could have been shot by ‘Vao’ (Vaotuua).
They told Samoa Global News they saw Vao walk up to where their uncle, Fata Utufua was standing. They say they saw Vao push away another matai who was standing with their uncle, and then placed the gun on his chest before firing.
“He was shot point blank in the heart, and as he sat on the ground holding his chest and gasping for air, Vao placed the small pistol to the back of his neck, and shot him again”.
“He fell over face down to the ground..”
The boys said one of them let out a gasp, swearing out loud in shock, but this caused Vao to swing his hand around toward them, pointing the gun in their direction and asking, “who said that?”.
They dispersed and ran for their lives, some heading into the sea.
“Liliu mai lava Vao ma ka’i mai le faga ia makou.. makou agi loa, sa kokofu isi i le sami..