“Pardon of Kings”, noted prisoner given amnesty
Among the 35 prisoners given amnesty as part of Samoa’s 50th Independence celebration, was former Cabinet Minister, Leafa Vitale, who was jailed for murder.
The Samoa Observer reports that during the official ceremony last Friday, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Lupesoliai Malielegaoi warned Government, Church and Village leaders that no one is above the law.
“It doesn’t matter who it is, even leaders of countries, if you break the law you must be prepared to face the consequences.”
Tuilaepa then told the pardoned prisoners to embrace “your new-found freedom… You must discard antics of old and use this freedom wisely for the good of your families and community;” and reminded the 35 prisoners that alcohol was probably a factor in their criminal activities.
“Curb your tempers, even the most wise of leaders can be led astray by wild tempers at the spur of the moment,” Tuilaepa said, noting that amnesty is not something to be taken lightly.
“The decision by the Head of State with advice from Cabinet was not made lightly. The decision was made with the silent guidance of the Spirit of the Lord.”
Rev. Elder Mafi Oloapu, of the EFKS at Loimata o Apaula, gave the opening prayer and offered the pardoned prisoners advice. “Do not take this lightly, if you are truly repented, you should start walking the straight and narrow.”
According to Samoa Observer on behalf of the pardoned, long time parolee Agafili Laau Tuitolovaa thanked the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efo and the Government for the “pardon of kings”.
“Only Kings behave like Kings and this has been the pardon of Kings,” said the famous Samoan writer. More than a hundred family and friends of the pardoned packed Tooa Salamasina Hall for the ceremony. Of the 35, only 10 were those still serving sentences, while the rest have been out on parole.
One of the pardoned, is Leafa Vitale, who with another Cabinet Minister Toi Aokuso were convicted of plotting the murder of Luagalau Levaula Kamu and were jailed for life in 2000.
Leafa and Aokuso had both served separately as Ministers of the Electric Power Corporation (EPC).
Vitale told the Samoa Observer, “I really believe this is an answer for my pleas with God every morning and night to please forgive me for all the bad things I have done in this life.”
Leafa’s son Alatise, who fired the shot that killed Luagalau, was also jailed for life.
Aokuso died while he was serving his sentence, but Leafa and Alatise were paroled in 2010.
Alatise was not among those pardoned.
The pardoned prisoners are:
Pesamino Faalogo, Pio Faapiano, Ioane Mamea, Sola Ati, Tuugalilo Onosai, Kapeteni Piula, Tuu Gafa, Newyear Alofilamau, Tifaga Aiono, Pesamino Ilalio, Tavita Inu, Fetui Taualoa, Agafili Laau Tuitolovaa, Isaako Tofa, Sale Tupai, Lamosa Maalomaiavao, Emosi Leasi, Alefosio Roebeck, Iese Filiga, Faamatuaina Ioasa, Auvaa Sila, Alofisa Telea, Sesela Afoa Mateo, Seumanu Nemaia Tuuga, Semau Faafiaula, Sione Sione, Logo Lualua, Pele Samoa, Aso Manusina, Toetu Lavea, Leafa Vitale, Tua Faapaia, Vaaiga Fiu, Peter Ulugia.