The first prisoners to escape from the newly opened correctional facilities at Tanumalala stood before Judge Leota Raymond Schuster in Samoa’s District Court yesterday to face charges against them.
Aniseko Vaelei and Lautitiiti Tualima are becoming household names in Samoa, having broken out of Tafaigata prison several times and taking only a few months to outsmart security systems and prison guards at Tanumalala.
Aniseko Vaelei did not enter a plea, requesting instead for a lawyer to represent him. He was told by the Judge that he was not eligible for legal aid, so he requested to be given the chance to contact his family and arrange for legal counsel.
Vaelei has been given two weeks to find a lawyer with the final adjournment set for the 3rd of December. Judge Leota directed the authorities to ensure Vaelei is given the opportunity to contact his family, and provided with a contact list of lawyers.
Yesterday Aniseko Vaelei stood before Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke in the Supreme Court of Samoa and conveyed his grievance against the Prison and Correction Services Authority, claiming he was being treated like an animal. He said he was being beaten by prison guards, sleeps on a cold floor without a pillow and is unable to shower for days.
“Pei a le faiga o a’u o le faiga o se meaola.’
Lauitiiti Tualima did not enter a plea straight away but instead argued in Court that they were already receiving their punishment, and serving time for the break out.
“Lau afioga o le kaimi gei la e faasala a maua; o lea e molia mai ii, ae o lā e faasala maua.”
“Your Honor we are being punished for this now, the charges are being brought here, but we are already being punished.”
Judge Loeta told the prisoner that what the Court needed from him was a plea.
Lauitiiti then pleaded guilty. The Court has set the 6th of December 2020 for sentencing.
Lauitiiti and Aniseko were caught at Falelauniu less than a week after they escaped from Tanumalala when they contacted a former prisoner currently on parole to pick them up from a spot near Tafaigata. The former prisoner contacted his parole officer instead, and cooperated with Samoa Police in an operation to capture the prison break duo.
Both Lauitiiti and Aniseko had been serving time for drugs, robbery and previous break-outs from Tafaigata prison.