Man Charged with the Murder of a Police Officer Pleads Not Guilty

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A former cop charged with the murder of a police woman on December 24th last year has pleaded not guilty to all five charges against him in relation to the tragic incident.

Fesootai mai loa Tapusoa poo Christabelle Ph 22772 mo nisi faamatalaga.

Police Officer Mele Segisolo Lapana was shot and killed in the early hours of Saturday morning 24 December 2022.

Police arrested and charged the victim’s intimate partner, Edward Fanueli, with murder.

In the Supreme Court this week Fanueli faced five charges including murder with the alternative charges of manslaughter and grievous bodily harm as well as being armed with a dangerous weapon and possession of an unlawful weapon.

Represented by Counsel Leiataualesa Jerry Brunt, Fanueli is denying all charges and requesting bail to wait out the Court hearing now set for August 2023.

His bail hearing has been set for later this month however, Lupematasila Iliganoa Atoa of the AGs Office said prosecution strongly object to Fanueli’s release. He has been in Police custody since his arrest on Christmas eve.

Many continue to campaign, ‘Justice for Mele‘ #justice4mele on behalf of the grieving Lapana family and her many friends.

At the time, the victim’s older sister, Muavae Janson, told SGN she knew her baby sister’s boyfriend had been abusive toward her for a long time, “but my sister was afraid to tell anyone because he would threaten her with that gun..”

Janson is calling for stricter gun laws and says Police need to crack down on possession of illegal weapons as it seems related to the prevalence of drugs especially methamphetamine in Samoa. She says her sister’s abuser was able to use an illegal weapon to continuously threaten Mele.

“I’ve seen posts in the past that strongly suggests he is on drugs,” says Muavae.

A 2018 Report by Samoa’s National Human Rights Institute found that more than 80% of women in Samoa are in abusive relationships and report being punched, kicked, or beaten with an object by their Intimate Partner.

A lesser percent report of being strangled and one in ten women report that they have been raped in their lifetime by a family member or someone known to them.

If you or someone you know is in an abisive relationship, please call the Samoa Police Domestic Violence Unit on Ph: 22222 or SVSG on their free calling number, 800 7874.