Samoa police report at odds with government's account to media
Details about a traffic stop on Beach Road involving deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo, Associate Minister Muagututagata Peter Ah Him and five Police officers have been leaked.
A copy of the “Police Report Form” obtained by the Sunday Samoan indicates that the deputy Prime Minister interfered as Police officers were attempting to test the Associate Minister for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Fonotoe is outside of the country and could not be contacted for a comment immediately. Muagututagata also could not be contacted yesterday.
When he was asked two weeks ago, however, Fonotoe downplayed his role in the incident. Instead, he said journalists should only report the version of events from government officials who have been appointed to deal with the media. Anything else from an unofficial source should be ignored, he said.
But the copy of the Police Report Form tells a different story.
Dated 07 October 2013, the report written in Samoan by Police officer Ioapo Isitolo. of the Traffic Division, is addressed to his superiors.
According to Mr. Isitolo, he was among five officers on routine patrol on the night of Friday 04 October 2013 on Beach Rd. The other officers included Mose Lotomau, Ma’anaima Patu, Michael Vala and Tevita Vili.
At about 10.30pm, the patrolling officers spotted a double cab pick up truck with the number plate “MCIL07” doing a U-turn in front of the “Flea Market."
This is illegal, the officers said.
So the vehicle, driven by Muagututagata, was stopped.
When he was asked about his driver’s license, the Associate Minister told the officers it was not with him as it was in his other vehicle.
At that point, Mr. Isitolo informed the driver he would have to be tested for alcohol.
“There was suspicion because his face and eyes were red and his smell, he smelled like alcohol.”
On the first attempts at the breathalyser, Mr. Isitolo said the driver’s lips only touched the machine.
He did not breathe into it.
The Associate Minister was given two more opportunities to blow into the breathalyser. On the third attempt, the machine gave a warning about “insufficient volume” of air.
As a fourth attempt to blow into the breathalyser was in progress, Mr. Isitolo said Fonotoe pulled up in a blue Double Cab, plate number “SSS01.”
“The first line from the deputy Prime Minister to me and Tevita was; ‘what are you doing’?”
“I responded that we were testing for alcohol.”
Senior Officer Ma’anaima Patu approached the deputy Prime Minister. At that point, Mr. Isitolo reported that Fonotoe said; “If you want to find justice, go and charge Kalaimagu whom we had been drinking with up there, charge the Member of Parliament and I will call Kalaimagu on Monday to tell me if he was charged.”
The report does not identify who “Kalaimagu” is. It also doesn’t say where the men had been drinking.
But in response to Fonotoe, Mr. Isitolo said Officer Patu retorted that they could not charge “Kalaimagu” since he wasn’t driving his car.
At that point, Fonotoe told Muagututagata to drive off.
“Alu lau ka’avale! Alu lau ka’avale!” And he did.
“[As they drove off] with their happy faces, I was uncertain as to why exactly I became a police officer in Samoa and what is the reason for having laws for the Government of Samoa,” Mr. Isitolo wrote.
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