Lemoli Niko jailed for life in Samoa

One of five men accused of murder was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Supreme Court yesterday.Lemoli Niko was found guilty of the murder of Mikaele Tumua, of Faleasi’u.His body was not found for over a year.Four other defendants who were jointly charged of the murder of Tumua were found not guilty and are free.Police said the murder took place on 26th April 2010 but that the body of Tumua, by then a skeleton, was not found until a year later on 3rd June 2011.Earlier this month, police prosecutors said that the murder happened after the men accused Tumua of beating one of the men’s children.One of the men threw a beer bottle at Tumua, the court heard.The next day, Niko fired two shots at him and a witness, before the men chased Tumua into nearby woods, carrying a machete and rocks.Tumua was not seen alive again.The case is the first of its kind in Samoa where DNA tests and samples were sent to New Zealand to clarify whether the skeleton was that of Tumua.In his evidence at the early May trial a forensic specialist from New Zealand, Timothy Powell, confirmed the identity of the skeleton.The trial has been going on for more than three weeks before a panel of assessors.Presiding was Justice Ida Va’ai. Lawyer Toleafoa Toailoa Solomona represented Lemoli and Toeaso Senio.Defendants Toeaso, Sefo Moavesi, Ulavale Lealofi and Sialii Felavai Amosa were found not guilty of murder and manslaughter.

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