13 July 2020, Apia Samoa. Two men charged with conspiracy to murder Samoa Prime Minister Hon Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi both submitted applications to leave jurisdiction through their lawyer Unasa Iuni Sapolu in the Supreme Court of Samoa this morning.
Justice Vui Clarence Nelson will deliver his ruling on Wednesday next week, on whether Lema’i Faioso Sione and Malele Paulo aka King Faipopo would be allowed to leave Samoa for Australia.
Lema’i wants to be with his daughter while she waits to give birth, and to undergo medical checks while King Faipopo wants to visit his family.
Opposing the application, prosecutor Magele Leone Su’a told the court that both defendants are Australian residents with no motivation to return once overseas.
Magele referred to an affidavitt by Lemai’s wife filed with the Courts in August 2019 that confirms Lemai is an Australian permanent resident.
The prosecutor argued that Lemai intends to travel to Australia with his wife and their children, so there are no strong reasons, and no ties for the defendant to return and answer to the charges against him.
Prosecution further argued that there are no reports to confirm that Lemai’s medical checks are not available here in Samoa.
“The application is not clarified or supported by any documents from a local practitioner, or any practitioner in Australia as to why the medical Lemai seeks, is only available in Australia and not in Samoa”.
Magele Leone added that the applicant has no permanent job in Australia to return to.
Malele Paulo lives permanently in Australia; his wife and chidren are in Australia, as are all of his immediate family. King Faipopo has not seen his family since he arrived in February 2019 to attend his mother’s funeral, and was arrested by police for publicly accusing the Samoa Prime Minister of theft, murder and smuggling illegal firearms.
In Court Prosecution said they believe there is no way the two defendants would return to Samoa.
Unasa Iuni Sapolu presented past cases to show precedence that defendants were allowed to travel abroad and return to stand trial; but prosecution told the Court of 2017 case where a defendant paid a surety bond of $50,000 tala to travel overseas, and to this daily has not returned to face rape charges against him.
Jointly charged, the trial for Lemai and Paulo has been set for November this year and defense counsel Unasa Iuni Sapolu has been asked to deal with engaging a different lawyer for one of her clients.
“It is unusual for one counsel to reperesent both defendants with conspiracy to murder,” said Justice Vui.
Defence counsel agreed and told the Court that one of the defendants would need to engage another lawyer.