Man Charged with Attempted Murder for Fish Market Machete Incident Faces Drug Allegations

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Monday 18 October 2021, Mulinuu Apia Samoa. A man charged in relation to the Savalalo fish market machete attack on two men during Independence weekend last year, appeared in the Supreme Court to face multiple drug related allegations against him.

former prop for Toa Samoa, Tagaloa Maugaloto Palu, 38, was filmed by witnesses as he entered the fish market at around 1pm on Saturday 30th May 2020 with a “shiny new machete” according to one witness who spoke to SGN at the time.

Tagaloa in 2011 as a national rugby league rep.

Tagaloa was charged with attempted murder and grevious bodily harm on two men who are brothers, following the widely publicised incident on social media.

Samoa Global News reported at the time that according to multiple witnesses at the Savalalo fish market, the motive behind the alleged machete attack was drug related.  According to witnesses, the two men attacked are brothers who work on fishing boats, and one of them owed their alleged attacker drug-related money.

“The older one is Molegi and the younger brother is Iosua. They come here all the time especially when the fishing boats come in. The younger brother works on that fishing boat right there”.

Just before Molegi was badly injured in the leg and back, and fell into the sea.

“They fell onto the docked boat, leaning on the boat as they struggled, and then Molegi fell into the sea.. his leg was slashed and there was blood everywhere”.

“But Iosua had a gaping wound on his neck and you could see it wide open”. The two men from Afega had survived despite the serious injuries.

Tagaloa had been represented by defense Counsel Aveau Leota Tima Leavai when he entered not guilty pleas to charges of attempted murder, two charges of grievous bodily harm and a charge of being armed with a dangerous weapon. He was released on bail by Justice Clarke in July 2020 to await his court hearing.

In delivering his decision on Tagaloa’s bail application, Justice Leiataulesa Daryl Clarke ordered at the time, that the details of his decision not be released, however, he did highlight that the risks were not significant enough for the defendant to remain in custody.

“In the end I’m not satisfied that there is just cause for the continued detention of the accused. The accused himself, after the incident, reported the matter to police..”

Tagaloa has, however, since been arrested again and returned into custody by police.

He is now charged with possession of meth and marijuana, as well as possession of utensils and unlawful ammunition.

During Supreme Court mentions this morning before Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma, a remorseful looking Tagaloa told the Court that he was unable to afford a lawyer to stand for him for these new charges. According to Tagaloa, he had applied for legal aid but has not heard back.

Justice Fepuleai asked the defendant where this application for legal aid was made, and he responded, “from Tanumalala prision”.

Tagaloa pleaded with the Court if he could be released on bail to await his Court hearing for attempted murder, now set for December 2021.

He made reference to his elderly mother, who was in the Courtroom to support him.

At this point Justice Fepuleai referred to District Court charges of receiving stolen goods against Tagaloa, set to be called on the 25th of this month.

“Do you accept these charges in the District Court against you?” asked Justice Roma. Tagaloa replied, “yes” he did accept the lower court charges against him.

Justice Fepuleai then adjourned the matter for re-mention next week, advising Tagaloa that he would need to have a lawyer put through a bail application for him.

Tagaloa Maugaloto Palu’s elderly mom walked up to him in the Courtroom, and embraced her son, before police took him back into custody.