Tuilaepa says there is no “commotion” inside the Samoa Police force

joyetter@samoanews.com

Apia, SAMOA — Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Justice & Courts, Papalii John Taimalelagi has confirmed that the suspended Police Commissioner Fuiavailili Egon Keil is facing 271 criminal charges. In an interview with Samoa News at his office yesterday, the CEO stated that initially 22 charges were filed, however on the day it was brought to court more charges were filed. The CEO declined to comment further on the charges noting that it will be announced in court when the case is called for a status hearing.

Samoa News understands that charges are in connection with illegal possession of firearms, intimidation along with threatening and insulting words and conspiracy to commit murder. The first case against the Commissioner was dropped after the prosecution informed the court that they had insufficient evidence to proceed with the case.

The following week the Commissioner went to his office after the Cabinet lifted the suspension, however he was arrested again on allegations that during a drug raid he ordered a police officer to kill a suspect by shooting him. The gun charges stems from his gun amnesty where the weapons were seized to be destroyed, however the Commissioner kept them for the use of the Police force.

Last week Thursday (Samoa Time) an Emergency Cabinet meeting was called where Minister Sala Fata Pinati was removed from the Ministry of Police and was tasked to oversee the Audit Office and Samoa Bureau of Statistics.

He’s also responsible for the Samoa Tourism Authority, which is key to the Samoa government's socio-economic development, and the Samoa Public Trust Office. Minister Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell, will continue to oversee the Ministry of Public Enterprises and Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour, as the Audit Office and Samoa Bureau of Statistics is now with Minister Pinati.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, is now the Fire and Emergency Services Authority and heads the Ministry of Police. Samoa News had the opportunity to question the Prime Minister about why he’s taken over the Police Ministry, if it had to do with the “commotion” inside the Police force.

“No, the Ministry of Police has always been overseen by the Prime Minister, and there’s no commotion, it’s the media that starts the commotion.” Asked about the numerous criminal charges against Fuiavailili and he responded, “If it’s 3,000 charges, it doesn’t matter as long as the charges can stick, it can be 3,000 but it won't stick.” He said that it’s unclear what the charges are and he’s not aware.

REVIEW OF SAMOA POLICE ACTIVITIES

Earlier this month the Samoa Cabinet moved to suspend Assistant Police Commissioner Samoa Mulinuu Mulinuu and Tuilaepa told Samoa News this action is a result of a liability against the government and for not fulfilling his duty as a police officer.  The Prime Minister made it clear that his actions against a member of the public were inappropriate given his rank in the police force.  He said that are times when someone files a complaint and the police officer acts upon it using his authority and then finds out later the move was wrong.

The Samoa Cabinet had since ordered a Commission of Inquiry, which will subsequently extend to a thorough review of Samoa Police activities and services. The Inquiry will assess any breaches of duty or incapacity and will review behavior that has negatively affected the confidence of the community in the Police Service. 

This review by the Commission of Inquiry will take place at a later date, as decided upon by Cabinet. The cabinet also reaffirmed protocols for the request, use and safekeeping of firearms by Samoa Police.  Any request and approval of the use of firearms must be considered first by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney General and Director of the National Prosecution Office.

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