Twelve men including matais and taulealea of Lefagaoalii village appeared in Court during criminal mentions on Monday morning and entered not guilt pleas to all the charges brought against them.
A video of the Lefagaoalii incident sent shock waves throughout Samoa and its diaspora abroad, when a matai was seen on a social media video being carried through the village on a roasting stick (amo).
An EFKS faifeau intervened and the intention of Lefagaoalii village matai was not carried out in its entirety, however, the 73-year-old victim was carried through the village in the most demeaning way possible – tied up as an animal.
Despite 12 arrests, an elderly village matai named Aitau’ia Ioasa Lemau, is the only one being charged with attempted murder for taking a knife to the neck of the victim which someone slapped away avoiding fatal wounds.
All twelve men are jointly charged with kidnapping, trespassing, grievous bodily harm, armed with a dangerous weapon and assault.
The taulealea acted to carry out direct and specific instructions by village matai to tie both the victim’s hands on one end and his feet onto the other end of the stick.
The victim’s body was seen hanging suspended from the roasting stick while the taulealea carried out instructions from village matai to carry him to a place where he was to be baked on a umu.
“Ave e tao i le umu” they were heard saying on the video footage.
Sooalo Asiata Alaimanuomalo Lepa Vitale Tuu was interviewed exclusively by Tui Eddie Taualapini of ET Live in his home in Lefagaoalii Savaii a few days after the incident. The 73 year old victim showed confident resilience as he spoke to describe what had happened to him that day.
Sooalo told ET Live he had forgiven his village and was ready to move on and put it all behind him.
All 12 defendants are on bail and the Court has adjourned the matter to the 13th of May 2024 for hearing.
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