Man Released Years After His Jail Term Ended Sues Ministry of Police and Prisons

Sio Galu Agafili outside Court. Photo: Maina Vai.

A man who remained in jail years after his court sentence expired, has brought a civil suit against the Ministry of Police, Prisons and Corrections Services.

Sio or Galu Agafili was sent to prison in December 2008 to serve a 5-year jail sentence for burglary and theft.

Agafili assaulted a fellow prisoner while serving this initial sentence. He was convicted of grievous bodily harm, adding another two years to his prison term.

However, December 2015 came and went, and Mr Agafili remained in prison, with no-one taking any notice, including himself.

It was not until he appeared before the Supreme Court in July 2020, that Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke discovered the error and ordered his immediate release.

In January 2020 a mass prison break saw over 30 inmates escape from Tanumalala prison after a coordinated attack on prison guards. Mr Agafili was one of the inmates who chose to fight in support of Samoa’s outnumbered prison guards. As a result, he was charged for assaulting fellow inmates on the night of the mass breakout.

Sio Galu Agafili did not expect to be released on that July 2020 day, when he was brought from Tanumalala to appear before Justice Leaiataualesa. At the time, Police and Prosecution were both taken by surprise when the Supreme Court Justice demanded to know why the prisoner had not yet been released.

The civil suit has been referred to a Judicial Settlement Conference (JSC) scheduled for next month before Justice Niava Mata Tuatagaloa.