Man Dies while Serving a Life Sentence for Death of His Wife, Suspected Suicide

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Translated from the files of #FaaSamoa. A prisoner had died while serving a life sentence at Tanumalala for the murder of his wife.

Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo said the prisoner was rushed to Leulumoega District Hospital yesterday, but despite efforts by medical staff, he passed away last night.

According to the Police Commissioner, the prisoner is suspected to have swallowed poisonous weed killer (vailaau).

“The prisoner has served three years of a life sentence for murder,” said Auapaau.

Asked how a prisoner would have had access to weed killer, Auapaau said investigations are continuing, however, the deceased was part of the team who worked the vegetable garden during the day.

The Police Commissioner did not wish to name the deceased prisoner, stating ongoing negotiations (feutanaiga) between the Ministry and the family.

Reliable sources inside police and prisons, as well as Leulumoega hospital say the deceased is Kolani Junior Lam, convicted and sentenced to life for the death of Government CEO Sa’u Justina Sa’u.

The high profile domestic violence case was widely reported  as the first case in Samoa where Prosecution applied to have propensity evidence submitted, to establish a pattern of behaviour and history of violence.

Kolani Lam maintained his innocence throughout and claimed Sa’u had committed suicide.

in December 2019, Justice Niava Mata Tuatagaloa found Lam guilty of murder after a two-week judge-only hearing; and handed down the mandatory life sentence.

Just a few months ago in November 2022, the Court of Appeal dismissed an application by Lam challenging the pathologist report that led to his conviction in the Supreme Court.