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‘Conspiracy to murder’ case underway behind closed doors

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 13 MARCH 2022: The longstanding conspiracy case against Malele Paulo (aka King Faipopo) and Lema’i Sione started today behind closed doors.

Presiding Supreme Court Senior Justice Vui Clarence Nelson allowed the media to sit in but not to report on it as there is another defendant, Talalelei Pauga who is jointly charged with Malele and Sione and will have a separate hearing.

Any published details of the current hearing could jeopardise Pauga’s chances of a fair trial.

The office of the Attorney General is still in the process of negotiating to extradite Pauga to stand trial in Samoa.

When that will happen remains uncertain and the Court has decided to move ahead with Malele and Sione’s trial this week and a separate trial for Pauga if and when he gets to Samoa.

The defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charge of conspiracy to murder the former Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Maliegeaoi and the hearing before a panel of assessors is scheduled for three days.