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Samoa prison probe hearings end

Samoa’s Commission of Inquiry into allegations of mismanagement and abuse of power at Tafaigata prison is reported as having completed hearing evidence.No one from the commission could be contacted for comment late yesterday afternoon.However, Radio New Zealand International reports that the Commission heard from 122 witnesses, including 40 prisoners, seven former inmates and 56 prison and police officers.The suspended police commissioner, Lilomiava Fou Taioalo, was the last to testify.The proceedings have been closed to the public and the media for the last three weeks.The Commission is now reviewing the evidence and drafting its report to Cabinet, which is due to be handed in before the expiration of four months of its appointment on January the 6th.The suspension of the police commissioner and one of his assistant commissioners heading the Tafaigata prison is due to end on December the 22nd.During the hearing Commissioners visited Tafaigata prison, as covered in reports by Samoa Observer and other media.Government announced the inquiry after months of speculation about an anonymous letter – dubbed the “Ghost letter” – sent to the prime minister last year.In it, the author alleged widespread corruption and misconduct between police and prisoners.Alleged loans from prisoners to police officers – and sexual misconduct between them – are among detailed terms of reference for the Commission of Inquiry released yesterday.The inquiry was officially titled “Commission of Inquiry: Tafaigata Prisons – investigating the allegations regarding the mismanagement and misadministration of Tafaigata Prisons and other related issues”.General areas of inquiry was set out under point 1 of the terms, looking at eight different areas, including handling of complaints, mistreatment of prisoners, weekend parole and rehabilitation programmes.