Members of a Village Council who ordered that a man be tied up by his legs and arms and left on the village malae for all to see, have been charged by Police for assault and willful trespass.
Deputy Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo confirms a total of 13 villagers of Lotoso’a Saleimoa have been charged by Police, including the Sui o le Nuu (a position similar to a village mayor) and six matai. The rest are untitled men (taulelea) who carried out the Village Council’s instructions.
The incident happened in July when the man was allegedly restrained and brought before the Village Council (Alii ma Faipule) for disobeying chiefs’ orders.
The victim was then tied up by his feet and hands, and left lying in a fetal position on the ground in the village malae. A source from the village says the man was only released when a Lotoso’a Church Minister intervened.
“The faifeau had to kneel before the Village Council and plead with them to have him released”.
Deputy Police Commissioner Auapaau says Village Councils must ensure the punishments they lay down are within the boundaries of people’s rights under the Constitution and the Law.
“This is a good reminder for Village Councils to understand that this type of action is against the law..
“It doesn’t matter if 100 per cent of matai in your Village Council agree to it, you all have to obey and abide by the Law,” Auapa’au said.
In response to other incidents where village matai and taulelea have been arrested and charged for carrying out illegal acts, Police Minister Faualo Tauiliili Harry Schuster told Samoa Global News village matai are not above the law and they ought to use their authority as Alii and Faipule to uphold the Law.
“Let us not use our power as Village Councils to allow illegal acts and then protect those involved from facing the consequences,” said Faualo.
“That is not acceptable,” said the Minister of Police at the time. “It is not tolerated under the Law, and it is also not tolerated in our Samoan customs and traditions,” stressed the Minister of Police.
All 13 accused will appear in Court later this month to face the charges against them.