01 February 2021, Courthouse Mulinuu Apia. The 68 year old charged with Samoa’s New Years Eve double murder at Afega village, made his first appearance before the Supreme Court this morning.
Faalavaau Tai’i Vaotuua Auleoleo Neemia Pologa holds high chiefly titles from Siufaga and Pata, Falelatai, as well as Afega, the village of his wife who is currently in New Zealand.
Known to Afega youth as “Vao” the elderly man was taken into Police custody on New Years Eve after he allegedly shot and killed two men with a low-calibre .22 millimetre handgun, before dozens of witnesses including families of the victims, from Afega.
Just after families at Afega had finished their midnight New Year’s Eve prayers, Faalavaau Taii allegedly shot Elisara Lole Fata, an untitled father of four in his late 30s, and then later, he shot Fata Utufua, a father of six children in his early 40s.
Villagers said there had been a dispute earlier that evening between the defendant and one of the deceased, Fata Utufua, when a vehicle driven by the brother-in-law of the first victim almost collided with Faalavaau’s car.
In Court during Monday morning criminal mentions, Faalavaau Tai’i was represented by legal aid Counsel, Leinafo Taimalelagi. Counsel submitted a bail application for the accused.
Prosecutor Fuifui Ioane requested an adjournment for Police to finalise charges against the defendant.
The matter was adjourned without plea to next week, where Prosecution would also need to decide if they oppose bail as filed by Counsel Taimalelagi.
Village chiefs and matai from the village of Falelatai had performed a traditional ifoga to seek forgiveness amd pardon from the families of both victims in Afega.
Due to the immense gravity of the offending being a double homicide, the traditional ifoga did not just include the families of the 68 year old offender. It had been decided within the village of Falelatai that the To’atolu o le Falefitu o le Atitagaloa that includes Faalavaau, Lealaitagomoa and Taefu, would all participate in the ifoga.
Member of Parliament and Associate Minister of Environment Taefu Lemi, was amongst those seeking forgiveness.