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Talalelei Pauga challenges the Warrant of Arrest against him

By Lagi Keresom

APIA, SAMOA – 02 FEBRUARY 2022: The third man accused of conspiring with others to assassinate the former Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi is challenging the process in which a warrant of arrest against him was issued.

Talalelei Pauga has been in custody for over a year in Queensland, Australia as he awaits legal proceedings on an extradition order for him to stand trial with the others accused in Samoa.

Pauga’s lawyer, Tufuga Fagaloa Tufuga applied in Court this week for a Court order to quash the warrant and also the certificate of authentication.

Tufuga had previously queried in Court how the warrant was issued when his client Pauga was never served as he was already in Australia at the time.

According to Tufuga, his client has suffered psychologically, emotionally and has received beating while in custody.

“He fears for his life as he awaits his bail application submitted under the stressful circumstances in custody,” said Tufuga.

Prosecutor Lupematasila Iliganoa Atoa opposed the application.

“The charge against Pauga is valid as it was sworn and affirmed by the Court and the charge cannot be held invalid,” said Lupematasila.

She argued that the issuing of the warrant of arrest was authorized by an order of the Supreme Court to arrest the defendant and bring him to court

She also confirmed that the Certificate of Authentication is valid and was issued by the Registrar of the Supreme Court as an officer, in pursuant to the Mutual Agreement in Criminal Matters Act 1987 of Australia.

“There is no infringement of the applicants rights arising from the application that would warrant  a quash of the prosecution and that there is no merit, so the application lack  any standing  and it is not in the interest  of justice that the application be granted,” she said.

Pauga is jointly charged with Lema’i Sione and Paulo Malele aka King Faipopo, on the charge of allegedly plotting to assassinate Tuilaepa back in 2019.

No date is set for the hearing of the original charge against the three men but Pauga’s application to quash will be recalled on 21 March 2022.